Solar Efficiency Plan Nets Picasolar Third Place in Competition

Picasolar members (from left to right) Michael Miller, Trish Flanagan and Matthew Young pose with Stu Clark, an oil and gas entrepreneur and alumnus of the University of Manitoba.
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Picasolar members (from left to right) Michael Miller, Trish Flanagan and Matthew Young pose with Stu Clark, an oil and gas entrepreneur and alumnus of the University of Manitoba.

Picasolar, a team from the University of Arkansas that has developed a patent-pending process to improve the efficiency of solar cells, took third place at one of Canada’s premier graduate student business plan competitions.

Picasolar also won the elevator pitch contest at the Stu Clark Investment Competition on March 23, hosted by the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. The team won $5,000 for finishing third and $1,000 for winning the elevator pitch.

Picasolar’s process, invented by team member Seth Shumate, could improve the efficiency of solar cells by 15 percent and could save manufacturers an estimated $5 million to $10 million annually per production line.

It marked the second time Picasolar finished in the top three at a competition in Canada. In January, Picasolar took the $20,000 grand prize at the 2013 IBK Capital-Ivey Business Plan Competition, held Jan. 25-26 at the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario in Canada.

The team is comprised of Shumate, a doctoral student in the microelectronics-photonics program offered by the College of Engineering and J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences; Trish Flanagan, a student in the concurrent master’s program in business administration and public service offered by the Sam M. Walton College of Business and the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock; Matthew Young, a doctoral student in electrical engineering; and Michael Miller, a master of accountancy student in Walton College.

The team is one of four from the U of A that are competing this spring in graduate student business plan competitions, and the university has advanced to the finals in each competition in which it has competed. The teams formed in the New Venture Development graduate course taught by Carol Reeves, holder of the Cecil and Gwendolyn Cupp Applied Professorship in Entrepreneurship in the Walton College.

The University of Arkansas has fielded competitive graduate student teams at state, regional, national, and international business plan competitions since 2002. During the past decade, students have almost $1.4 million in cash at these competitions.


Carol Reeves, associate vice provost for entrepreneurship
Academic Affairs


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