HEVT, a Chicago company developing next-generation electric motors, won the National Grand Prize in the annual Cleantech Open competition.
Billed as the largest cleantech accelerator in the world, this year's contest began with 356 entries from around the US, which were winnowed to 25 finalists. Since the Cleantech Open competition began in 2006, it has enabled 581 startups to bring their ideas to market.
Founded in 2005, HEVT won the $250,000 grand prize (in cash and services) for its electric motor technology that doesn't require rare earth elements.
Cleantech Open describes their innovation this way: HEVT's disruptive electric motor technologies leverage smart software with optimally designed hardware to create electric motors that provide a rare combination of performance, efficiency, reliability and affordability, while reducing supply volatility due to the motors' elegant design, simplicity of active materials and the absence of rare earth metals.
Its "switched reluctance" technology is scalable from 150 watts to 1 megawatt and is being designed for use in air conditions, oil and gas pumps, and hydroelectric generators.
"Our technology is a key building block for renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainable mobility technologies, and we solve critical global environmental and supply chain problems surrounding the mining and refining of rare earth metals," says Heidi Lubin, CEO and co-founder of HEVT. "The validation we have received as part of the Cleantech Open accelerates our growth and helps us meet growing customer demand in a challenging macroeconomic environment."
Other finalists are:
Rentricity (Renewable Energy): hydrokinetic energy-recovery technology for drinking water, wastewater and industrial applications.
Red Ox Systems (Air-Water-Waste): an electrochemical desalination cell treats wastewater from oil and gas wells in situ, so it doesn't have to trucked to wastewater plants.
GR Green (Green Building): a process for producing roofing tiles from recycled plastic and limestone.
SiNode (Energy Efficiency): advanced lithium-ion battery technology that can charge a mobile phone in minutes and keeps a charge for days.
Open Global Ideas Competition
While the main contest focuses on US startups, innovations from around the world are highlighted in a separate Cleantech Open Global Ideas Competition.
Biosyntia, based in Denmark, is working on green processes to make chemicals, and won $100,000 in startup services.
2012 Alumni Award
Each year, Cleantech Open checks up on previous award winners, looking for whether they've achieved momentum. This year's Alumni Award goes to Dragonfly Solutions.
Dragonfly helps schools find new sources of revenue through energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Its School Energy Efficiency Development program provides cash rewards to schools for measured energy savings and creates new revenue streams through proven energy-saving technologies and public finance options.
This year, the company scored a multi-million-dollar contract with the Ypsilanti School District and forged two relationships that promise to build national awareness for its initiatives.
The Cleantech Open is a nonprofit organization that fosters promising startups through a nine-month program that includes education, relationship building and funding opportunities.
Here's the list of winners: