SALT LAKE CITY — Navillum, a team of three MBA students and three researchers from the University of Utah, won the People’s Choice Award at the National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition, which concluded June 13 with an awards ceremony at the White House.
About 300 teams from across the country competed in the inaugural competition sponsored by the Department of Energy, and six teams advanced to the finals after winning their regional competitions.
The U. team won the People’s Choice Award by capturing the most votes during several weeks of online voting. It was one of just three awards presented at the White House.
“The People’s Choice Award represents all the local support we had in Utah from alumni to students to the entire community,” said Ryan Tucker, one of the students on the team.
Navillum is based on an invention by Jacqueline Siy-Ronquillo. She developed a technology for more efficiently producing different types of semiconductor nanocrystals, such as quantum dots. Quantum dots are tiny semiconductors that can emit different colors of light. They can be used to improve the color and efficiency of computer displays, to improve the efficiency of solar panels, and to make lights more efficient.
Other MBA students on the Navillum team include Chris Lewis and Ameya Chaudhari. The scientific team consists of Siy-Ronquillo, Nikko Ronquillo and Michael Bartl.
Navillum advanced to the national finals after winning first place and $100,000 at the regional event in Boulder, Colo. The team has received an additional $144,000 in grants from the university and the state of Utah.