Megawatt Ventures' Inaugural Ten Finalist Teams Announced To Compete For $100,000 Grand Prize!March 23, 2011
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(Orlando, FL) – MegaWatt Ventures, an annual University of Central Florida clean energy business competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, selected ten teams to be awarded $10,000 in their inaugural class. The ten selected teams will now compete for a $100,000 grand prize in September. In addition to the $10,000 award, the ten finalist teams will each be assigned professional mentors and gain access to business workshops which will help to develop a commercially viable technology company. Mentorship includes coaching on business plans and strategy, presenting a technical concept to potential investors and education on additional funding sources available, such as federal Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) grants. The teams will have access to both high-level executive business and product/technology development mentors. Many of the companies are spin-outs from Florida's university research labs and all of the companies currently employ students from these universities. The ten companies were selected by a panel of seasoned venture capitalists, technology experts, and industry veterans.
The 2011 MegaWatt Venture's finalists include: OrgSolar (Melbourne), Cyclocean (Vero Beach), RedOx Fuel Cells (Gainesville), Mud Power (St. Petersburg), Mesdi Systems (Orlando), SenNova Inc. (Orlando), Verdicorp Inc. (Tallahassee), I-Red LLC (Edgewater), Bladeworks (Melbourne) and NCAA Battery Corporation (Winter Park). While some of these companies have been involved in production or research prior to Megawatt Ventures, most were created as a result of the funding provided from becoming a finalist in this competition.
Many of the technologies are being developed in conjunction with Florida university research including programs at Florida Institute of Technology, Florida State University, University of Central Florida, University of Florida, and University of South Florida. These technologies come from several different renewable sources including cost effective photovoltaics (OrgSolar), vertical wind turbines for low wind zones (I-Red), unique wind turbine blade designs (Bladeworks), wave energy turbines (Cyclocean), oceanic microbial fuel cells (Mud Power), solid oxide fuel cells (RedOx), smart grid sensor hardware (SenNova), heat sourced generators (Verdicorp), affordable utility batteries (NCAA), and large scale energy material deposition equipment (Mesdi Systems). Those companies which did not place this year will be eligible to compete next year, and are still welcome to attend some of the workshops and services that are available to the official teams.
"We feel this competition will help not only these companies in their quest to commercialize, but will also raise awareness of the business opportunities in the renewable energy sector to many other entrepreneurs in Florida", said Tom O'Neal, Executive Director of the program.
These companies will compete at the MegaWatt Ventures' showcase event, which will be held at the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), a research institute of the University of Central Florida, on September 8 – 9, 2011. FSEC was created by the Florida Legislature in 1975 to conduct research, test and certify solar systems and develop education programs across a breadth of renewable energy technologies. Both the rigorous education program and competition the finalists will participate in are sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, the University of Central Florida, and other energy organizations.
In the months leading up to the event, all teams will be required to attend unique workshops customized to the renewable energy industry. Since most of the companies were founded by technologists, their first workshop will be a "Business Bootcamp" based on the Kauffman Foundation content, focusing on venture capital fundraising and other necessary management skills. Ensuing workshops will include how to effectively produce a return on investment analyses, critical sales techniques for the clean energy industry, as well as a rare peak into the entire customer decision chain in implementing solar solutions for municipalities.
MegaWatt Ventures is an annual clean energy business plan competition that is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and the University of Central Florida in conjunction with the University of Florida, University of South Florida, Florida State University, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and the Florida Institute of Technology. The competition has an over-riding mission of encouraging the commercialization of innovative energy-related technologies from the lab bench into the marketplace. Students, entrepreneurs and faculty are eligible to participate in this exciting annual program that brings innovation, entrepreneurship and the energy industry together to create new ventures that have the potential to create new jobs and help solve today's global energy issues. For more information, please visit www.megawattventures.com or call 407-882-0594.