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University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering


Business Students Win Big With Yao's Technology

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Melanie Ziems
Dr.  Yao with Team Energetik

In a continuing trend of collaboration between University of Houston colleges, the Cullen College of Engineering and C.T. Bauer College of Business joined forces to create an award-winning team which competed at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln New Venture Competition.

The New Venture Competition, one of the oldest business plan competitions in the nation, pits student teams against one another in a battle of business savvy. Teams present manufacturing and business plans surrounding new technologies to industry heavy-hitters and the most successful plan wins. The UH team – named “Energetik” and composed of Jonathan Brown, Jonathan Cohen-Kurzrock, Rowbin Hickman and Noy Shemer – teamed up with Yan Yao, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, to created their award-winning business plan based on Yao’s research into developing better and safer batteries for energy storage.

“Dr. Yao’s successful research and development of this technology will create a battery that is safe, significantly lighter and smaller than any other batteries on the market, allowing for a competitive energy density and most importantly, a longer lifetime,” Cohen-Kurzrock said. “This battery’s application can range from power storage for telecommunications to submarines, but we are focusing on the solar power industry.”

The team’s business plan involved outsourcing the battery manufacturing and using a third party logistics company to handle warehouse and distributions. The team would then sell the battery to solar installers. Yao worked with the team for three months leading up to the competition.

“It is a great idea to have students from the business college developing business plans for technologies developed at [Cullen] College of Engineering,” Yao said. “I am extremely impressed at the quality of the undergraduate students from the Wolff Center. They are smart and fast learners. I am thrilled to be working together with them to bring this technology to market.”

After their presentation at the New Venture Competition, the team was approached by several individuals interested in bringing the conceptual business plan to fruition with Yao’s technology.



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