University of Minnesota graduate students advance to national cleantech startup competition

Aelios Technology develops intelligent switches to maintain critical infrastructure in developing nations

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (5/18/2018) — The Aelios Technology team of students from the University of Minnesota's College of Science and Engineering and Carlson School is gearing up to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Cleantech UP startup competition in Washington, D.C. this June.

Earlier this spring, they were named one of two runner-up startup companies in the 2018 Cleantech University Prize (Cleantech UP) Midwest Showcase in Chicago.

“We’re excited and happy to get this far, and we’ve be working hard on our prototype and next presentation. We are really looking forward to going to D.C.,” said Sourav Patel, a University of Minnesota electrical engineering Ph.D. student and Aelios Technology team leader.

In addition to Patel, the Aelios Technology team includes mechanical engineering Ph.D. student Saurav Talukdar, electrical engineering Ph.D. student Shreyas Bhaban, and Carlson School MBA student Atul Fotedar.

Cleantech UP was established to motivate the next generation of clean energy entrepreneurs and innovators to create new ventures that will dramatically move clean energy technologies from the discovery phase to the marketplace.

Aelios Technology develops intelligent switch devices to help supply power for critical infrastructure in developing nations. Their mission is to be a catalyst for change in developing economies. The switch, called “Intelligent Plug for Devices” or iPlugD (pronounced as i-plugged), enables hospitals to extend the duration of critical services during power shortages, to help prevent loss of lives.

At the Cleantech UP Midwest Showcase, the team pitched its vision in front of a live audience and a panel of expert judges at the mHub Innovation Centre in Chicago.

Team members received “immense support” from their advisor, Professor Murti Salapaka in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Professor Carla Pavone in the Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship, as well as the startup course MGMT 5102 offered by the Carlson School of Management. The idea for Aelios spun out of a research grant from ARPA-E led by Professor Salapaka.

Aelios Technology was one of 21 collegiate teams from 12 Midwest states vying for spots in the regional competition. Only eight were chosen as finalists to compete in Chicago. The winner (Aerospec Technologies, from Northwestern University), plus two runner-up teams (Aelios Technology from University of Minnesota and Beltech from University of Chicago) go on to compete against the other regional winners at the national competition in June.

“All of the teams who participated [at the Cleantech UP in Chicago] are to be commended for their ingenuity and dedication to addressing some of society’s most gripping challenges with entrepreneurial zeal,” said Erik Birkerts, CEO of Clean Energy Trust, which sponsored the Midwest regional contest.

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