WPI Students Reach Finals in $125,000 'Ignite Clean Energy' Competition

Contact: WPI Media Relations, +1-508-831-5609

Worcester, Mass. - May 5, 2006 - A team consisting of three students from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and one from Suffolk University is among 10 finalists in the second annual Ignite Clean Energy Business Presentation Competition hosted by the MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge Energy Special Interest Group. To reach the finals, the team had to survive two elimination rounds that narrowed the field from the original group of 40 proposed start-up companies.

The 10 finalists will make their business presentations in the final competitive round on Tuesday, May 9, in the Kirsch Auditorium at the MIT Stata Center, from 4:30 to 9:30 p.m. (open to the public and free of charge).

"These fledgling businesses all offer solutions to our country's need for energy independence and a clean, healthy environment," said Linda Plano, chair of the Ignite Clean Energy Competition and associate director of the Massachusetts Technology Transfer Center. "We expect these teams to play a significant role in building a thriving clean energy industry in the Commonwealth."

The event organizers at the Energy Special Interest Group of the MIT Enterprise Forum have matched the finalists with industry mentors to help these new entrepreneurs, who are developing such innovative clean energy technologies that can reduce development costs for offshore wind farms, improve the efficiency of producing biofuels from agricultural wastes, and cut the costs for harvesting solar energy.

The WPI start-up, known as BiOctane, proposes to design and develop a bio-diesel and ethanol refinery. The two-step refining process, using waste oil and waste glycerol coupled with methanol recovery, can produce bio-diesel, ethanol, and hydrogen under one roof with an environmentally conscious process and at a lower cost than is currently possible. The plant would represent a pioneering approach to bio-fuel production.

The BiOctane team consists of WPI students Ormar Pinango '06, a manufacturing engineering major from Miami, Fla., Rachel Robillard '07, a biology and biotechnology major from Lake George, N.Y., and Sean Scheriff '06, a mechanical engineering major from Lindehurst, N.Y., along with Suffolk student Henry Loud. The team's mentors are Jeff Bentley, CEO of CellTech Power LLC; Austin Scee, and Advanced Technology Ventures.

The Ignite Clean Energy Competition is designed "to develop the next generation of businesses selling clean, renewable, or efficient energy technologies and services, and to spur the entrepreneurial activities that will bring these to market," according to a news release from the organizers. It offers a series of networking, team-building, training, and mentoring opportunities that culminate in a competition for the best investor presentations, with awards totaling $125,000.

About the Ignite Clean Energy Competition

The competition seeks to help new business leaders create a compelling story for raising funds from government, angel, and venture capital investors; teach entrepreneurs superior presentation skills; and encourage networking among participants and industry leaders. It is sponsored by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, Foley Hoag, Mintz Levin, UMass Lowell's Commercial Venture Development, Cummings Properties, Rich May Law, Maniv Energy Capital, BusinessWire, and Constellation NewEnergy. For more information, visit www.IgniteCleanEnergy.com or call 508-698-6810.

About WPI

Founded in 1865, Worcester Polytechnic Institute is one of the nation's first and leading scientific, engineering and technological universities. Its 18 academic departments offer more than 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science, engineering, technology, management, the social sciences, and the humanities and arts. WPI's world-class faculty work with students in a number of cutting-edge research areas, leading to breakthroughs and innovations in such fields as biotechnology, fuel cells, information security, and nanotechnology.