Picasolar Selected as Finalist at SXSW Eco Startup Showcase
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Picasolar, a solar startup company affiliated with the University of Arkansas, has been selected to compete in the SXSW Eco Startup Showcase, a fast-paced pitch competition featuring top emerging firms from around the world.
The Startup Showcase, now in its fourth year, is a rapid-fire pitch competition spotlighting innovative early-stage companies in the areas of “greentech,” “cleanweb” and “social impact.” Eight companies per category will compete at the conference, scheduled for Oct. 6-8 in Austin, Texas, in front of a live audience and panel of judges made up of top investors.
Picasolar will compete in the greentech category, which includes startups offering a diverse range of products and services that fulfill a market demand while significantly reducing or eliminating environmental impact. Picasolar is the only Arkansas company in the overall competition; the greentech category includes companies from California, Illinois, New York and Texas.
Each company presents a four-minute pitch and then engages in a four-minute question-and-answer session with the judges, who will determine the winner. In the past two years, participating companies have gone on to raise more than $27 million in funding and acquire global brands as clients.
Picasolar’s technology, a hydrogen selective emitter invented by chief technology officer Seth Shumate — a doctoral student in the microelectronics-photonics graduate program at the University of Arkansas — could improve the efficiency of solar cells by 15 percent. It is a key innovation in the fastest-growing segment of the fastest-growing energy source in the world.
Picasolar won more than $300,000 in cash while competing for the University of Arkansas at graduate business plan competitions in 2013, including $250,000 for winning the MIT NSTAR Clean Energy Prize. The team incorporated and is now located at the Genesis Technology Incubator at the Arkansas Research and Technology Park in Fayetteville.
“The Startup Showcase at SXSW Eco provides a great platform for us to share our venture,” said Douglas Hutchings, Picasolar’s chief executive officer. “We have made tremendous progress over the past year and we are excited to be one of the few companies selected to compete. I can’t think of a better place to share our recent breakthroughs than at this event.”
Carolyn Harrold, SXSW Eco’s startup programming producer, said, ““Each year, we are honored to spotlight the companies that are offering the most innovative new solutions to our social and environmental challenges. This year’s finalists were selected out of our most competitive applicant pool yet, and we look forward to the excitement they will bring to the stage and the change they will drive in the coming year.”
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