MIT LED Lighting Idea Lights Up Cleantech

Recently, the 2011 Berkeley-Stanford Cleantech (BSC) Launchpad brought together some of the biggest, greenest brains in the nation to compete for cash, glory and the ear of the U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu. Now, the PolyChroma team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has been declared the winner.

The theme of this year’s competition was “Creating Jobs for a Green Economy.” The team–composed of Marnix Hollander, Kurtis McKenne, Chunguang Charlotte Wang and Jon Garrity–focused on a venture for developing optics for the next generation of LED lighting. Their technology is described as breaking “critical barriers to mass adoption of LEDs for lighting,” such as long payback period and poor light quality, by tuning the color output to allow for “a 2yr payback period while delivering a high quality white light.” They envision “20,000 museums that would love to be able to tune the color of their lights to complement their exhibits,” followed later by a general market penetration of LEDs to increase to 50-80% by 2020.

MIT PolyChroma Team

image via MIT

Having been declared the winners of the competition, the team will receive $10,000 in cash and services as well as a personal meeting with leading cleantech venture capital firms and  the opportunity to pitch U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu. As far as cleantech start up ideas go, theirs is clearly a good one, as PolyChroma also placed first in the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition‘s Executive Summary Contest in February.

The team first came together during MIT’s Energy Ventures course last fall, during the course of which student teams assembled around promising technologies in the energy sector and developed business plans designed to bring them to market.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.

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