A start-up called Active Surfaces emerged as the winner of this year’s MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition. MIT gave the award money to Shiv Bhakta, the company’s co-founder. Bhakta is an Indian American graduate student enrolled in MIT’s Leaders for Global Operations dual-degree program.

MIT Student Gets $100K

Bhakta received the $100K award for Active Surfaces’s proposal for a thin-film solar technology.

The ultrathin solar panel resembles a yoga mat. It can be conveniently transported in a roll and swiftly deployed across various rooftops. Active Surfaces’s innovative panel significantly reduces installation costs and expands the feasibility of rooftop solar power.

Active Surfaces is using cutting-edge materials science and manufacturing advancements from MIT labs to transform the concept of ultrathin solar panels into a practical reality.

Bhakta highlighted the limited access to solar energy despite its wide distribution globally. Bhakta attributes this to challenges such as weight, logistics, and site-specific requirements. Active Surfaces aims to address these limitations by developing a flexible solar technology that can be seamlessly integrated into the built environment.

Active Surfaces’s objective is to create ultrathin solar panels with the efficiency of traditional ones, capable of being applied to any surface.

Additionally, Bhakta expressed his enthusiasm for contributing to a greener and more sustainable world by transforming available surfaces into energy sources. This has the potential to substantially reduce CO2 emissions on a large scale.

Next Steps for Active Surfaces

After receiving the $100K prize, Active Surfaces received numerous communications from MIT alumni. The company has received congratulations, requests for conversations, partnership opportunities, deployment possibilities, and investment interests.

In addition, Active Surfaces has been contacted by previous winners of the $100K competition and other start-ups that have emerged from MIT. The company has benefited immensely from these contacts, learning how to address the various challenges that arise during start-up scaling.

At present, Active Surfaces’s focus lies in product development, establishing relationships with potential pilot partners, and expanding the scope of its technology. In the coming year, its aim is to transition from a 100-millimeter width to a 300-millimeter width while employing a roll-to-roll manufacturing process.

Bhakta told reporters that once Active Surfaces is prepared to introduce a viable product, his responsibility will be to secure customers willing to showcase the company’s technology on their buildings. Bhakta will also seek to establish long-term contracts for early revenue and obtain the necessary financial support to demonstrate scalability.

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