Technology Visions Meet Market Needs

Idea to Product® competition, Nov 17-19 at KTH

EVENTS

Published Nov 15, 2011

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.

Kevin Billinghurst

Complete Agenda for Idea to Product® Global, Nov. 17-19, Sing Sing KTH.

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