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U-M Teams Sweep Cleantech Venture Challenge

3/6/2008 --

Teams from the Ross School of Business placed first, third, and fourth in the annual environmental business plan competition.

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Never heard of Potentia? That could change soon enough. The Potentia team from the Ross School won $15,000 in the third annual Cleantech Venture Challenge hosted by the University of Colorado's Deming Center for Entrepreneurship.

Teams from the University of Michigan also took third and fourth places, and even the second-place team from the University of Californina-Davis included a U-M student. In addition to Ross School students, the Michigan teams also included students from the College of Engineering and the School of Natural Resources and the Environment. All teams were coached by the Ross School's Zell Lurie Institute.

The sponsor of the competition, Cleantech Network LLC, challenges students to compete in teams to showcase business opportunities in the emerging clean technology sector. The student teams must demonstrate venture-grade, for-profit business models and provide innovative solutions, services or products that reduce environmental impacts or improve ecological sustainability.

The winning U-M team, Potentia, presented a business plan that would commercialize an energy- scavenging battery-replacement technology to last 10 times longer than current batteries. The battery would be connected to wireless sensors that pick up on environmental conditions and then make adjustments for optimal performance. Using this technology, lights would automatically turn off when a room becomes empty.

"We've learned a lot throughout this experience and we've made a lot of connections that we'll be contacting in the future," said Potentia member Ruba Borno.

The third and fourth-place U-M teams took home $5,000 and $2,000, respectively. Third-place Cymergy's plan was to generate energy from cement factory waste heat, while fourth-place enDep Systems focused on enabling hybrid vehicle owners to plug in their cars at home. Runner-up Forest Eye, which won $10,000, proposed software to enable more efficient management of forest inventory.

Top-ranked Potentia will present its plan at the annual National Renewable Energy Laboratory Industry Growth Forum this year. Investor's Circle, angel investors looking to support new sustainable companies, will be invited to look at all four top-ranked teams' executive summaries.

This year's challenge attracted teams from top business schools like Yale University, the University of California-Davis and Stanford University.

Written by Leah Sipher-Mann

For more information, contact:
Bernie DeGroat, (734) 936-1015 or 647-1847,