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Bright Idea from MIT Team Impresses Energy Secretary

Not every college student gets to pitch their business idea to the U.S. Energy Secretary. Then again, not every college student is developing optics for next-generation LED lighting. A team of four MIT students won the honor—along with $10,000 in cash and services—during the Berkeley-Stanford Green Entrepreneurship Competition.

The PolyChroma team defeated five other finalists, selected from 19 original entries. Pitching to U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, the winning team pointed to LED lighting’s potential $15 billion per year savings in electricity costs, along with its work on patented optics technology to improve quality and efficiency. Chu, who won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1997, previously led Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, earned his PhD at Berkeley, and has held positions at both Berkeley and Stanford.

Despite the bragging rights it earned over its counterparts at UC Berkeley and Stanford—and the fact that it also recently won the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition—the PolyChroma team has quite a ways to go to reach its goal of $1.25M to manufacture and implement demonstration products. But don’t bet against them.

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