Clean tech contest

Feb 13, 2013

Michigan student technologists compete in statewide energy venture challenge.

Future Tech Farm

UPDATE: According to co-founder Austin Lawrence, Future Tech Farm took second place in the Clean Energy Venture Challenge. He said the start-up is developing in two avenues: first, a demonstration of the technology that they are interested in integrating, and second, a baseline model that is intended to be affordable for most consumers.  

Due to a contracting agreement between Future Tech Farm and Lava, another entrepreneurial effort by Kettering students, Future Tech Farm was able to connect their demo system to their iPhones “through a really nifty app that LAVA created,” said Lawrence.  

“Our demo system now has a local wifi network that allows the user to receive sensory data, control lights, and control water flow.  Our current plan is to consolidate this technology into our baseline model,” Lawrence explained. “We designed our consumer product to be modular and upgradable, based on almost unanimous feedback from our Facebook following,” he added.

Lawrence and partner Brian Falther are working on more product development and preparing for the Green Light Business Model Competition in March.  

Two Kettering University teams are among finalists in the Michigan Clean Energy Venture Challenge (MCEVC). Kettering CHP and Future Tech Farm will compete this week for more than $100,000 in prizes at MCEVC. Now in its fifth year, the competition encourages student technologists from colleges and universities across Michigan to transform clean tech ideas into viable ventures.

Competing in the category of “Increased Energy Efficiency,” Kettering CHP has developed an environmentally friendly cogeneration of heat and power using multiple fuels, at higher efficiency and reduced cost. The team includes Vipul Ladda and Pouyan Pourmovahed, with mentors Dr. Etim Ubong and Dr. Boyan Dimitrov.

Competing in the category of “Resource Conservation,” Future Tech Farm  -  Kettering University

The Tech Farm unitFuture Tech Farm is revolutionizing modern agriculture to be efficient, ecologically sustainable, and affordable for the urban community. The team consists of Brian Falther and Austin Lawrence with mentors Daniel Estrada, The Start Garden Team, Jason Pliml, John Balbach, Dan Brown, Michael Cononie, Alexander Masters and Dr. Massoud Tavakoli.

“Since this is the first time Kettering University teams have participated in the Clean Energy Venture Challenge competition, I think it says something about the caliber of our students that they have made it to the finals,” said Dr. Massoud Tavakoli, adviser for the Kettering Entrepreneurial Society. “We have been able to facilitate the entrepreneurial efforts of our students because of the support of Kern Family Foundation and Kern Entrepreneurship Education Network (KEEN).

The MCEVC, provides funding to dozens of student and faculty led teams with great ideas about green energy, enabling student and faculty led teams to go from an idea to venture launch during a six month program.

During the Venture Challenge teams are given access to skill-building resources, mentors, investors and the opportunity to apply to micro funding  to help them move their ideas forward, and at the end of the competition the most successful teams will receive additional prize money and potential investments to launch their new businesses.

The semi-final round of the competition takes place on Feb. 14, and this year’s winners will be announced Feb. 15, at 2 p.m. in Blau Auditorium at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business. Don Runkle, CEO of EcoMotors, a Michigan-based startup that designs and manufactures eco-friendly combustion engines, will speak at the awards ceremony. The top four teams will also pitch their ideas to attendees.

“It’s been exciting to witness the extraordinary progress of the teams and their ideas over the past six months, and the evolution of the CEVC itself over the last few years,” said Doug Neal, executive director of the University of Michigan Center for Entrepreneurship, which administers the competition. “We’re committed to contributing to the acceleration of the state’s entrepreneurial success. It’s great to see talented student entrepreneurs from such a large number of Michigan universities and colleges involved in the challenge this year.”

Contact: Dawn Hibbard