Earlier this week, the Energy Department hosted the second annual National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition. From Northwestern University, SiNode Systems took home the top honors | Photo courtesy of Ken Shipp, Department of Energy.

SiNode Systems from Northwestern University won the 2013 National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition earlier this week. The competition, now in its second year, is part of President Obama’s Startup America Initiative that works to encourage and accelerate high-growth entrepreneurship by inspiring university teams across the country through business opportunities in clean energy.

After presenting their business plan to a panel of esteemed judges and live audience Wednesday, SiNode Systems was awarded more than $100,000 in cash and services (like technical, marketing and legal assistance), provided by the competition’s sponsors. North Carolina A&T University’s team -- Bioadhesive Alliance -- won the People’s Choice Award on Wednesday as well, which was decided via a public vote on energy.gov.

To best their competitors in the finals, SiNode developed an advanced anode technology with the potential to dramatically increase the performance of batteries -- impacting everything from cell phones to electric vehicles. SiNode’s lithium battery anode technology addresses the two aspects of battery improvement -- energy capacity and power density. The technology provides up to a tenfold increase in energy capacity compared to conventional graphite anodes, and can increase energy capacity of a complete battery assembly by 50 to 100 percent.

Each of the six regional finalists of the competition presented their business ideas to a prestigious group of judges from industry and academia, and created a business plan around a promising clean energy technology developed at a U.S. university or National Lab. The plans detailed how they could bring that technology to market, including financing, product design, production scale-up and marketing.

The other five finalists included teams from Brigham Young University, University of Arkansas, Purdue University, University of California - Berkeley and North Carolina A&T University. The competition is funded through the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, and is already supporting the next generation of energy leaders who will boost American competitiveness. Participants in last year’s competition have gone on to raise almost $7 million in follow-on funding, launched 52 startups and create more than 42 full-time jobs.

The Clean Energy Business Plan Competition is inspiring some of the country’s best and brightest students to become the next generation of clean energy entrepreneurs. As Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy David Danielson told competitors -- we can’t wait to see what these teams do next. Congratulations to the winners!