MIT Kicks Off Clean Energy Competition

Some of the most creative minds in Massachusetts are developing ways to meet the country’s need for reliable, affordable, and environmentally sensitive energy.

The MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge is hosting a competition to speed the development and commercialization of clean and renewable energy technology solutions. The second annual Ignite Clean Energy Competition, hosted by the Energy Special Interest Group (ESIG) of the MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge, drew nearly 100 entrepreneurs, investors, students, and clean energy proponents to MIT on December 8 to begin sharing ideas and to learn about the competition. Designed to develop the next generation of clean, renewable, or efficient energy resources, and to spur the entrepreneurial activities that will bring these resources to market, the Ignite Clean Energy Competition, offers a series of networking, team-building, training, and mentoring opportunities that culminate in a business-plan competition. Awards total $125,000. “We anticipate that these new leaders will help make our region the center for clean energy economic development, creating new jobs and growth opportunities,” said Linda Plano, Chair of the competition. “In many ways, the Ignite Clean Energy Competition is the farm team for the Massachusetts clean-energy industry. We’re doing the hard work as the ‘pre-incubator accelerator,’ helping innovators develop and eventually commercialize technologies so that venture capital and private equity capital become viable funding options.” The three goals of the competition are to: — Help new business leaders create a compelling story for raising funds from government, angel, and venture capital investors — Teach entrepreneurs superior presentation skills — Encourage networking among participants and industry leaders. “Great business ideas will not get funded unless entrepreneurs present their ideas in a clear, compelling manner that is focused on the needs of investors as well as customers. A common complaint of venture capitalists and other investors is that new business presentations are often disorganized, jargon-filled, or lacking key elements,” said Plano. “The Ignite Clean Energy program aims to give Massachusetts entrepreneurs a competitive edge in the funding race by training contestants in the best practices for creating money-winning investor pitches.” The competition is not limited to new energy sources but also encourages development of technologies that will help reduce energy use, make existing energy systems perform better, or simply provide better solutions for existing technologies. Clean Energy technologies include: Renewable Energy (solar, wind, fuel cell, bio-energy, geothermal, hydro-technologies); Energy Efficiency and Demand Response (electricity end use, building use, management applications, grid management technologies); Enabling Technologies (power electronics, storage, cables and wires, sensors and instrumentation, control systems, materials and manufacturing technology); and High-Performance Buildings and Green Systems(sustainable design and integrated clean energy applications). A key component of the competition is the Invention to Venture Entrepreneur Bootcamp, a day-long program co-hosted with the National Collegiate Innovators and Inventors Alliance (NCIIA), UMass Lowell’s Commercial Ventures and Intellectual Property (CVIP) Incubator, and the MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge Energy SIG. The Entrepreneurs Bootcamp features a series of panels of experts — venture capital/angel investors, industry analysts, and communication/speech trainers — who provide insights and examples into every aspect of developing a successful high tech startup, particularly with regard to clean energy technologies. The Bootcamp will be held Friday, February 24, 2006, from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. at UMass Lowell.
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