Solar-powered inflatable light maker LuminAID Lab has been named the early-stage winner of the 2013 Clean Energy Challenge organized by the Clean Energy Trust. Bearing Analytics of Purdue University won the Student Challenge. Both companies received a $100,000 grant prize sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
Inspired by the 2011 earthquake in Japan, LuminAID Lab’s founders designed a lightweight, ship-flat solar-powered light to provide light in natural disaster situations. The company has sold more than 30,000 units so far and is working on a next generation version, according to LuminAID co-founder Andrea Sreshta.
Bearing Analytics, of Purdue University, offers a patent-protected temperature and vibration sensing solution to the industrial bearing market. This technology allows users to predict bearing failure before it happens, helping to alleviate safety concerns, prevent costly gearbox failures in wind turbines, extend product lifetimes and increase energy efficiency. Bearing Analytics will go on to compete at the 2013 National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition in Washington, D.C. this summer.
Additional prizes were awarded to SmarterShade, SkySpecs, Amplified Wind Solutions and Ornicept. SmarterShade, an Indiana-based company that makes an innovative film system to instantly darken windows, received the $50,000 Chicago Lakeside Prize, sponsored by McCaffery Interests.
SkySpecs, a University of Michigan-based firm that uses an unmanned aerial vehicle, or drone, to monitor wind turbines, bridges and other infrastructure, won the $10,000 Invenergy Renewable Ideas prize.
Nicole Zmij, CEO of Amplified Wind Solutions out of Cleveland State University, was awarded the ComEd and Clean Energy Trust-sponsored Breaking Barriers in Cleantech award for her role as an outstanding female entrepreneur. Amplified Wind Solutions harnesses wind energy to self-power cell towers, particularly in remote locations.
“The Challenge is designed to uncover the very best in clean energy technology startups and kickstart their development,” said Amy Francetic, Clean Energy Trust executive director. “This year’s teams inspired us beyond expectation. The judging was very competitive. We are grateful for the support of our sponsors, board and judges for their help in creating more prizes for these creative entrepreneurs.”