from BostInno

by Lucia Maffei

This weekend, Infinite Cooling, an alum of the MIT “delta v” startup accelerator program, wonnearly $500,000 in cash and prizes at the Houston-based Rice Business Plan Competition, one of the largest student startup competitions in the country. Infinite Cooling was ranked first among the the 42 total competitors.

It’s not the first time that the clean energy startup co-founded by Karim Khalil, Kripa Varanasi and Maher Damak performed well in a competition. Last year, for example, the clean energy company placed third at the Beantown Throwdown, a Boston area’s multi-school student company pitch.

“RBPC was a great event,” Damak wrote in an email to BostInno. “We pitched four times in three days in front of various audiences and had a lot of interesting discussions with investors and people from the energy industry. It was also inspiring to meet and learn about the work of the other 41 teams. We are thrilled that we got the first prize.”

Damak continued: “It is an important validation from about 300 voting judges, most of whom are investors, and we are excited to work with the investors who awarded us $400,000 in investment prizes.”

Infinite Cooling is a clean tech startup that wants to enable power plants to produce the same amount of power while using less water. The company produces a water-capture device – which looks like a dome-shaped mesh – that can be retrofitted to an existing cooling tower on an operating power plant. The device uses electric fields to charge the water and control its course; the charged water can, therefore, be prevented from “escaping” and redirected to a collector.

“By using our technology to capture that vapor, we can save huge amounts of water and really have an impact on the water crisis that’s happening, for example, in California,” Damak said in an previous interview with BostInno.

Many other local startups were honored at the Houston-based competition. Aday Technologies, a member of the Spring cohort of the Harvard’s Venture Incubation Program, ranked third and cashed $200,000 in individual prizes. Aday is a workforce management tool that lets hourly workers schedule themselves. In addition, OZÉ from MIT – a mobile app that aggregates and analyzes transaction data – earned sixth place and more than $150,000 in individual prizes.

Among the 42 competitors there were also another renewable energy startup, Aerospec Technologies, which recently relocated to Boston from Chicago, MIT-born Iterative Scopes and Boston College-born Wunderite.

This year the Rice Business Plan Competition, hosted by the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship and Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business, awarded more than $2 million in prizes.