A team of Northwestern University student entrepreneurs won the $100,000 grand prize in the student team division of the 2012 Clean Energy Challenge, an annual business competition that awards cash prizes to top Midwest clean-technology entrepreneurs.
The winning team includes Northwestern Law students Ben Hernandez JD-MBA ’13 and Tabrez Ebrahim JD-MBA ’13, McCormick School of Engineering student Chris Wilmer, and Northwestern chemistry professor Omar Fahra. Their business venture, NuMat Technologies, is a materials-based startup, which has developed a screening tool for rapidly identifying and testing metal-organic frameworks (MOFs). The company also developed a complimentary, low-cost approach to synthesize, purify, stabilize, and experimentally evaluate MOFs.
“Competing in the Clean Energy Challenge was both challenging and exhilarating at the same time. It was the culmination of almost a year of hard work, and was an opportunity to showcase at a national level the technical, business and legal talent that Northwestern University has to offer,” said Hernandez.
More than 100 early-stage and student-led companies in all aspects of clean energy submitted applications for the competition. Ten early-stage and eight student finalists presented their business plans to a distinguished panel of nationally renowned investors, corporations, and entrepreneurs at the Clean Energy Challenge, held March 1, 2012, in Chicago.
NuMat was also awarded $10,000 as the top team for the state of Illinois and will be representing the Midwest region for the National Grand Prize competition to be held in Washington, D.C., in June 2012.
The Clean Energy Challenge is the signature event of the Clean Energy Trust, a non-profit organization created to accelerate the development of Midwest clean energy businesses by connecting entrepreneurs, researchers and early stage companies with the expertise and capital needed to become sustainable.