Previous Teams

1st Place – $50K: RoBotany (Carnegie Mellon University): 

RoBotany is an indoor vertical farming company using automated robotics and software analytics to transform modern agriculture. The company was recently featured in NEXTpittsburgh as one of 17 tech companies to watch in 2017. 

In May 2017, Poets & Quants named RoBotany CEO Austin Webb “One of The Best MBAs.”

RoBotany completed a 2,000 square-foot, 25-foot tall Version 2 farm with a full processing line over the summer and are now building a 20,000 square-foot farm that will produce over 2,000 pounds per day. Learn more in TribLive.

The Pittsburgh Business Times recently recognized up-and-coming executives, innovators and thought leaders who will shape the future of Pittsburgh with its inaugural class of “30 under 30” awards. RoBotany CEO Austin Webb was among the winners.

In October 2017, Webb was a featured speaker at the LaunchCMU event, “Robotics in Manufacturing.” The event showcased artificial intelligence and robotics entrepreneurship while bringing together the investment community, regional business leaders and CMU alumni.

Webb, along with Scott Institute Associate Director for Innovation & Strategic Partnerships Anna J. Siefken, are scheduled to speak at Covestro’s THINC30 Summit on November 15. Get in touch with RoBotany.

2nd Place – $10K: Teratonix (Carnegie Mellon University):

Teratonix is a maintenance-free solution that converts ambient radio waves to generate electricity on a spot. The company is working on prototype demonstration, exploring possible applications to build a go-to-market end-to-end ioT solution for Walmart or Shell. They are forming a new C-Corp to continue the energy harvesting business under the new entity.

The team placed in Carnegie Mellon University’s McGinnis Venture Competition and in May 2017, the team went on to win the Transformational Idea Award at The First Look West (FLoW) Competition. The $5,000 Transformational Idea Award recognizes outstanding pre-commercial ideas and applied research projects focused on cleantech and sustainability. The award is part of FLoW’s U.S. Department of Energy Cleantech UP business plan competition.

Teratonix, along with the University of Maryland’s RE-Empower and MPEL-EVtech, then traveled to Austin, TX  from June 25-26 to compete for $100,000 in cash prizes at the Department of Energy’s Cleantech University Prize (Cleantech UP) national collegiate business plan competition. Most recently,  Teratonix placed second in the TransTech Energy Business Development Conference’s Pitch Competition—earning them $5,000.

Contact Teratonix.

3rd Place – $5K: RE-Empower (University of Maryland): 

RE-Empower is a social enterprise committed to help eradicate global energy and economic poverty through the development of renewable energy systems for critical institutions and businesses in developing and emerging economies. Get in touch with RE-Empower.

3rd Place – $5K MPEL-EV (University of Maryland): 

MPEL-EVtech develops Electrical Vehicle technology, bi-directional, high efficiency, multi-functional EV charging system. The team is finalizing product development, customer discovery and advanced automotive testing with their current partnership, Genovation Cars, Inc. Contact MPEEL-EVtech.

Fan Favorite – $5K: Minimus (Carnegie Mellon University and Robert Morris University): 

Minimus delivers hyper-efficient, DC powered homes that are highly customizable and socially beneficial.

In August 2017, CBS Pittsburgh featured Minimus for its work building the Keystone Tiny House Community for Veterans. The project will produce 17 homes for veterans in need. Watch the video. You can read more about the project in Robert Morris University’s Sentry Media. Contact Minimus.

Read about the other 2017 participating teams!

2016 Teams

1st – $50K: Expresso Logic (University of Pennsylvania)

Following their success in the Allegheny Region Cleantech University Prize in March 2016, the winner of the $50,000 top prize Expresso Logic (formerly known as DR-Advisor) continues to develop its software, a data-driven demand response recommender system, along with pilot demonstrations on real buildings. Expresso Logic will develop and roll out the beta version of its software and continue  pilot demonstrations in the greater Philadelphia region with utility companies, grid operators, curtailment service providers, and building owners and facilities managers. Learn more about Expresso Logic’s work on its website or contact Dr. Madhur Behl.

2nd – $15K:  Manta Biofuel (University of Maryland)

Manta Biofuel, a Baltimore based biotechnology firm that has developed a three step method for producing renewable crude oil from algae, tied for second place with Waven Technologies, a team from Carnegie Mellon. Manta Biofuel secured a $100K investment from the Maryland Technology Development Corporation and a two-year $1M Department of Energy Small Business Innovation Research Grant. The funding will be used to complete development of the team’s algae harvesting technology. In 2016, Manta Biofuel deployed the next version of its algae harvesting technology in the field. The team hopes to harvest algae from 3 million gallons of water.

The company recently moved 10 staff to their first permanent office space. In this indoor location they can develop and manufacture equipment independent of weather condition. Read more in MDBiz News.

Learn more about Manta Biofuel or contact Dr. Ryan Powell.

2nd – $15K: Waven Technologies (Carnegie Mellon University)

Waven Technologies, the team behind Waven Technologyan innovative ocean wave energy converter technology that produces electricity in an efficient, cost-competitive and reliable manner, has finalized its design to fabricate a prototype for testing in the wave channel at the national oil spill response test facility, Ohmsett. The team also started discussions for partnership with a world leader in offshore mooring and subsea services, as well as with energy-producing companies. Contact the Waven team.

2nd – Gecko Robotics (Carnegie Mellon University) at the Rice Business Plan Competition

Gecko Robotics, a Carnegie Mellon Team, did not place in the Allegheny Region competition, but received 3rd place overall and 1st place in Energy at the 2016 Rice University Business Plan Competition. They received almost $150,000 in cash prizes. The company builds robots that automate factory inspections, in order to save money, improve energy efficiency, and reduce injury and death in the workplace. Gecko was featured in TechCrunch and named one of the top seven startups from the Y Combinator Spring 2016 Demo Day. Most recently, Gecko Robotics’ COO Troy Demmer was among the Pittsburgh Business Times inaugural 30 under 30 class.

The company is now working in 14 U.S. states. They are providing services to power plants and other industrials in agribusiness, ethanol producers, and pulp and paper plants. Gecko Robotics has plans to expand to even more applications and industries, like the renewable energy field.

Contact the Gecko Robotics Team. Watch this video to learn about Gecko Robotics.

3rd – $5K: Saloleum (Chatham University)

3rd – $5K+$5K Fan Favorite: WindiGo Turbines (Drexel University)