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Ross MBAs Take 2009 MIT Clean Energy Prize

A team of Ross MBAs and their startup, Husk Insulation, won the $200,000 MIT Clean Energy Prize, a national student competition founded by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the U.S. Department of Energy, and utility NSTAR to accelerate the pace of clean energy entrepreneurship. The Ross representatives also picked up the $10,000 prize in the competition’s biomass category.Husk Insulation is poised to convert agricultural waste (including rice husk ash) into thin, high-grade, and affordable insulation for the refrigeration industry. The enterprise was conceived by Ross 2009 graduates Erica Graham, Shally Madan, Siddharth Sinha, and Ian Dailey, and Elizabeth Uhlhorn, MBA/MS ’10. In February, the innovative business plan took the $15,000 Pryor-Hale Award for Best Business at the Michigan Business Challenge. In March, it was awarded the $21,000 second prize in the DTE Energy Clean Energy Prize Competition.”The MIT prize is certainly a great win for our Husk team,” says Sinha of this latest victory. “But we also think it’s a fantastic win for Ross and the University of Michigan. It’s just one example of the many great things that come out of the school and the University as a whole.”The Ross team beat out more than 100 other teams representing 40 schools nationwide. Husk Insulation was cited for its energy savings impact and market potential as well as the team’s competitive advantage.The principals behind Husk Insulation plan to use the prize funds to create a market-ready prototype of their sustainable product, which has the potential to boost the efficiency of a refrigerator by up to 50 percent and replace polystyrene panels that are four times as thick.But the money wasn’t the only prize captured by the Ross team during the recent competition at MIT. Husk Insulation also garnered the attention of the U.S. Secretary of Energy, Google’s director of energy initiatives, and the CEO of NSTAR, all of whom attended the May 13 awards ceremony.

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