Solar Start-Up Wins Clean Energy Competition

May 14, 2006 by Jeff Shepard

Energy entrepreneurs convinced a panel of industry leaders and venture capitalist judges that their businesses can make clean energy competitive with conventional energy to win the Finals of the 2006 Ignite Clean Energy Business Presentation Competition.

Started in 2005 by the Energy Special Interest Group (ESIG) of the MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge, the Ignite Clean Energy Competition provides training, mentoring, coaching, $125,000 in prizes and services to clean-energy entrepreneurs, with one overarching goal - to build a thriving clean-energy industry in Massachusetts. The competition is designed to help new business leaders create a compelling story for raising funds from government, angel, and venture capital investors; teach entrepreneurs superior business plan presentation skills; and encourage networking among entrepreneurial participants, investors and industry leaders.

The winning team, Stellaris, expects to build a company in Lowell, MA, capturing its share of the growing $11 billion in annual worldwide solar energy panel sales. Stellaris COO Lee Johnson presented the team's plan to the judges and the audience of nearly 400 at the MIT Stata Center. Stellaris solves the high cost of solar energy systems by decreasing the solar module size by 40% while increasing the efficiency of its energy-generation by more than 20%. The Stellaris PowerTile™ captures and concentrates indirect light via a translucent panel that can be used in conventional windows, patio tiles, and skylights, combining architectural appeal with energy production.

For its efforts, the Stellaris team, which includes Marketing & Sales VP Tom Ward, won $15,000 cash, plus $25,000 in office/incubator space, and $7,500 in legal services.