Fuel cell technology secures $10,000 prize in prestigious MIT $50K Entrepreneurship Competition

Finalists acknowledge Deshpande Center support

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (May 10, 2005) -- The MIT Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation (Deshpande Center) today announced that Nanocell Power, a business plan based on technology supported by the Deshpande Center, was selected first runner-up in the 2005 MIT $50K Entrepreneurship Competition, the oldest and best known university business plan competition. The plan received the contest's $10,000 runner-up prize. The grand-prize winner was Balico, a wearable vibrotactile balance aid that accurately senses and displays body tilt in order to help prevent falls.

Nanocell Power's technology, based on a project led by MIT Mechanical Engineering Professor Yang Shao-Horn, enables the viability of fuel cells for portable electronics today and paves the way for tomorrow's automotive fuel cell market. The patented manufacturing process provides more efficient distribution of expensive catalyst and carbon nanofibers in the fuel cell membrane. This can decrease the size of fuel cells in portable electronics by 80%, increase the power output of military fuel cells by 400%, or cut the cost of automotive fuel cells to 20% that of today's technology.

Seven $50K finalists were chosen last week from 86 entrants with 250 team members participating. Judges, including noted venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, and patent lawyers, selected the winning teams based on their potential of becoming leading firms.

Nanocell Power team members attributed their success in part to Deshpande Center support. Furthermore, their team first formed as a result of the i-Teams course, a joint product of the MIT School of Engineering and MIT Sloan School of Management in which teams of graduate students develop go-to-market strategies for innovations created in MIT laboratories and funded by Deshpande Center grants.

About the MIT $50K Entrepreneurship Competition

Now in its 16th year, the $50K Competition has awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and business startup services to outstanding teams of student entrepreneurs who submitted business plans for new ventures showing significant business potential. As the world leader among university entrepreneurship competitions, the Competition has facilitated the birth of over 60 companies with an aggregate value of over $10.5 billion. These companies have generated over 1800 jobs and received $175 million in venture capital funding.

About the MIT Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation

Dedicated to supporting leading-edge research and bridging the gap between the laboratory and the marketplace, the Deshpande Center was created in 2002 to serve as a catalyst for innovation and entrepreneurship by supporting the research of MIT faculty and students, and facilitating collaboration among entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, innovative businesses, and MIT faculty. Part of the school of engineering, the Deshpande Center supports a wide range of emerging technologies including biotechnology, information technology, new materials, tiny tech, and alternative energy development.

About i-Teams

i -Teams bring together highly qualified and motivated graduate students with MIT research labs and the business community. The research projects are all winners of Deshpande Center grants. Guided by the labs' principal investigators, faculty from MIT's Entrepreneurship Center, and leaders from the local business community, the student teams assess the commercial feasibility of scientific and engineering breakthroughs.