SyracuseCoE and New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) partnered to host twelve university-based student teams from the New York City Metro region in the EnergyTech University Prize (UP) business plan competition. The annual three-phase competition is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Technology Transitions (OTT), and hosted by various partners across the nation.

SyracuseCoE and NYSERDA have been Energy Tech UP regional (“Explore”) competition hosts since its genesis in October of 2021. In its second year, the mission of the competition remains the same: to invite university-affiliated student teams to present a business plan for an energy technology with market potential. The “Explore” phase of the competition is regional; later phases of the competition, “Refine” and “Pitch”, invite all regional winners to refine their plans and pitch them on the national stage for a chance to win $100,000.

The live event was moderated by Syracuse University student, Kai Volcy, 23′. Volcy is a Communications Intern at SyracuseCoE.

The winning proposal for the NYC Metro Region was “Efficiency Boosting Thin Films for Solar Panels” from the Heliotrope team from New York University. The team was awarded $3,000 for their plan to increase the efficiency of existing solar panels with the addition of a cost-effective heliotrope film. The technology proposed is a thin film product that has the potential to significantly boost solar panel efficiency by reshaping the solar spectrum. As this region’s winner, Team Heliotrope will participate in the “Refine” and “Pitch” stages of the national competition.

In addition to earning a chance to win the national prize, Team Heliotrope received a nomination for the Office of Solar Energy Technologies’ $25,000 Bonus Prize. Three other NYC Metro Region competitors received nominations for $25,000 Technology Bonus Prizes, across various fields:

  • Electric Grid Enhancing Technologies: Grid Discovery, Stevens Institute of Technology
  • Large Power Transformers: TransX Automated Transit System, Rutgers University
  • Fossil Energy and Carbon Management: HVACapture: Direct-Air Capture on an HVAC System, Columbia University

As Technology Bonus Prize nominees, each of these student teams will have the opportunity to compete against other regional bonus prize nominees. Ultimately, up to nine of these teams will each win the $25,000 prize and a chance to compete in the “Pitch” phase of the national competition, alongside all of the regional winners.

Student teams chosen as regional winners or nominated for Technology Bonus prizes have increased chances of success, as many of last year’s winners and nominees have. For example, KLAW Industries represented SUNY Binghamton in last year’s competition, where their carbon-negative cement replacement (Pantheon™) won a $25,000 Technology Bonus prize from the Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management. To date, KLAW Industries has received over $1 million dollars in grants and awards to continue the development of sustainable solutions for the concrete and recycling industries. KLAW has joined the SyracuseCoE Partner Program as a Startup Partner.

Judges for the New York City Metro regional competition were Brad Banikowski, Entrepreneurship Navigator for Division of Science, Technology, and Innovation of Empire State Development; Michelle Knapp, Founder of Funform; Eric Shiff, Syracuse University Professor; and Cassie Schuttrumpf, Program Manager for Venture for ClimateTech. Student teams represented New Jersey Institute of Technology, Fordham University, Columbia University, Rutgers University, New York University, Stevens Institute of Technology, and St. George’s University.