Haworth College of Business News

WMU Teams earn over $30,000 in winnings in statewide Clean Energy Venture Challenge

Five teams of Western Michigan University students have won over $30,000 in micro grants and category awards in the Michigan Clean Energy Venture Challenge at the statewide competition in Ann Arbor, Mich., on Friday, February 17.

The Challenge encourages students from Michigan colleges and universities to grow clean-energy solutions into thriving businesses. There were 16 student teams competing in the event. In addition to WMU, students represented the following universities: Lake Superior State University, Michigan State University, Michigan Technological University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University.

“This has been a beta year for WMU student participation in entrepreneur competitions,” says Barcley Johnson, instructor of management, and mentor to a number of the student teams participating in the event. “With the proper training, we have proven that our students can play in prime time against the tough schools. In this contest, we competed against teams that were mostly MBA, LAW and Ph.D students from the other schools. This has also been a great cooperative experience with U of M and the U of M faculty.”

“It feels great to win and be among 16 other teams competing for the same thing,” says Andrea Lavasseur, who was part of the VermaBioMass team. “We put so much time and energy into this competition and when our names were called, along with other teams representing WMU, it was a great feeling. We would like to thank WMU for the opportunity as well as the special opportunity to represent the Haworth College of Business. Go Broncos!”

A team of Wayne State University graduate students won the $50,000 first place prize in the competition. In addition to a first- and second-place prize at the contest, judges gave out awards in six categories, including best resource conservation, increased energy efficiency and green building. Five special achievement awards were also awarded for best prototype, most disruptive, best team assembled, best pivot(s) and judges’ choice.

All five WMU teams shared in the winnings and are listed below:

Category Prizes
Advances in Building Techniques and Materials, Green Building

Glass Reclamation – $5,000 plus $2,000 in micro grants
Glass Reclamation is recycling glass in a specialty class that is not currently recycled or pulverized. The product and the byproduct is used in concrete to build buildings that are Leed certified. Team members are Samantha Marsh, Nicole Clement, Kate Lutz, Drew Williams, Dan Duzenberry and Rachel Plaster.

Resource Conservation
e1e2 (earth first, everything else second) – $5,000, plus $2,000 in micro grants
e1e2 is a recycling program that awards members with points for recycling. The members can use their recycling points as discounts or coupons for products and services within their local community, online and at national retailers. Founded in March, 2011 in Kalamazoo by Samuel Jaquette at StartUp Weekend, e1e2 has been making a difference in Michigan’s environment. Team members are: Samuel Jaquette, WMU alumnus; Aaron Holmes, KVCC; Adam Parr, Northwood University alumnus; and WMU students Abdullah Alyousif, Katrisha Johnson, Nathon Johnson and Duy Nguyen.

Most Disruptive Product
Revolutionary Winds – $2,500, plus $2,500 in micro grants (Tied for first place in this category)
Revolutionary Winds is developing a vertical wind turbine that can be easily refitted on any existing pole structure, thus eliminating the need for new poles, and the ability to be off grid and on grid generation of electricity. Team members are Neil Hurley and Matthew Olsen.

Special Achievement Prizes
Best Team Assembled
VermaBioMass – $5,000, plus $2,000 in micro grants
VermaBioMass is focusing on the usage of a specific type of worms to break down biodegradable material from healthcare facilities that is not currently recycled. Team members are Lindsey Truit, Andrea LaVasseur and Brian Oswald.

Best pivot(s)
ReClaim – $5,000, plus $2,000 in micro grants
ReClaim is developing new technology for using existing heat exhaust to create electricity backup systems. Team members are Aaron Tardy, Sergio Cappelletti and Olivia Starks.

This year, for the first time, the competition was part of a national effort encouraging young entrepreneurs to develop greener energy solutions through President Barack Obama’s Startup America campaign. The winner of the Michigan contest advances to a regional competition in the spring, and could eventually have a shot at a national grand prize in Washington, D.C. this summer.

Clean Energy Venture Challenge sponsors include DTE Energy, MASCO Corp. Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, U.S. Department of Energy, Google, UBS Investment Bank, Eisbrenner Public Relations, the University of Michigan, Western Michigan University, Wayne State University, Michigan State University and Michigan Technological University.  Partners include the University of Michigan’s Ross Energy Club, Energy Institute, Center for Entrepreneurship and MPowered.

About the Clean Energy Venture Challenge
The Michigan Clean Energy Venture Challenge is a state-wide competition administered by the Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Michigan. It is a new version of the Michigan Clean Energy Prize that provides student teams interested in clean energy entrepreneurship the education, mentorship and resources to accelerate their ideas forward. Teams that are accepted into the program will be part of a cohort of clean energy entrepreneurs from across the state of Michigan. In addition to experience, connections and feedback they will receive, there are also opportunities for micro grants and other prizes totaling more than $100,000.