Technology Visions Meet Market Needs
Idea to Product® competition, Nov 17-19 at KTH
KTH plays host this week to 15 university teams taking part in the final event of the Idea to Product® Global Competition. From November 17 to 19, aspiring entrepreneurs from five continents will face the challenge of convincing judges that theirs is the best commercialisation plan for an early-stage ICT, Energy or Bio-Life Sciences technology.
The “Idea” in the competition’s title refers to applying creative thought to a technology, while “Product” is about developing a market application. Idea to Product® Global — or I2P® as the organisers have catchily named it — aims to match up creative technology thinkers with concrete societal and market needs.
The climax of months of regional competitions comes this week as winners of earlier rounds go head-to-head at KTH. But there won’t be any losers in this event: I2P® is designed to develop students’ capacity to recognise the commercial potential of laboratory innovations and gain insights into the connections between university research and successful market-driven companies. Stockholm and KTH get some well-deserved recognition as innovation incubators, and all participants receive practical feedback from the panel of specialist judges.
Don’t confuse Idea to Product® with a traditional business plan competition, where the emphasis is on having a fully developed business model and extensive market knowledge. I2P® puts the focus on the technology product itself — creating knowledge, identifying market opportunities and designing specific solutions.
It’s the first time in its 10-year history that the I2P® final will be held away from its birthplace of Austin, Texas, and in addition to the honour of hosting the event, KTH has a team vying for the top prize in the Energy category. Three Ph.D. students, Rizwan Raza, Liandong Fan och Xiaodi Wang, will show off their “Electrolyte-free Fuel Cell”, aimed at breaking through the cost and complexity that hinders a technology long touted for its future potential in enabling a new generation of efficient, low-pollution vehicles.
“Fuel cells are traditionally based on a three-component configuration — anode, electrolyte and cathode — that requires a complex, expensive structure”, explains Raza. “We believe we can lower this commercial barrier with our single-component fuel cell.” The team’s advisors are KTH Professors Bin Zhu and Terrence Brown.
The three-day competition culminates on Saturday, Nov. 19 with the ABB Technology Showcase and Networking Session, during which each entry will be on display as a prototype, video demonstration or poster. Prize winners will be announced in each category, and an award will go to the best display. Visitors are welcome.