Indian American student wins MIT’s $100K Entrepreneurship Competition

Indian American student wins MIT’s $100K Entrepreneurship CompetitionIndian American student wins MIT’s $100K Entrepreneurship Competition
MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition
Michelle De Pacina
August 7, 2023
An Indian American graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) won an entrepreneurship competition and received $100,000 for pitching an idea that would commercialize an ultra-thin film solar technology.
Active Surfaces: Shiv Bhakta and his teammate Richard Swartout won the cash prize on May 15. The pair founded Active Surfaces, a company that manufactures ultra-thin, lightweight and durable solar panels for global decarbonization.
“Our approach is to develop solar technology for the built environment,” Bhakta told MIT News. “In a nutshell, we can create flexible solar panels that are as thin as paper, just as efficient as traditional panels, and at unprecedented cost floors, all while being applied to any surface. Same area, and the same power. That’s our motto.”
About Bhakta: Bhakta is in a dual-degree program within the MIT Sloan School of Management and Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
Earlier this year, he won MIT’s Student Sustainability Leader Award. In 2022, his company won first place at the Harvard Climate Symposium Startup Pitch competition. 
“When I came to MIT, my north star was to dive deeper in my climate journey and help make the world a better, greener place,” Bhakta said. 

“Now, as we build Active Surfaces, I’m excited to see that dream taking shape. The prospect of transforming any surface into an energy source, thereby expanding solar accessibility globally, holds the promise of significantly reducing CO2 emissions at a gigaton scale. That’s what gets me out of bed in the morning.”

About the competition: The MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition, which was founded in 1990, awards students and researchers who show exceptional leadership and collaboration within the sustainability community. Winners are given a network of resources and prototyping funds to help their ventures accelerate.
“When we’re ready to deliver a pilotable product, it’s my job to have customers lined up ready to demonstrate this works on their buildings, sign longer-term contracts to get early revenue, and have the support we need to demonstrate this at scale. That’s the goal,” Bhakta said.

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