NWA-Based Picasolar Among ‘Most Promising’ Companies

Picasolar Inc., a Northwest Arkansas-based startup affiliated with the University of Arkansas, recently received a 2013 Energy & Clean Technology Award for its patent-pending process to improve the efficiency of solar cells.

Picasolar was one of the 10 “most promising” companies selected from a pool of global applicants at the 11th Annual Energy & Clean Technology Venture Forum held Sept. 12 in Houston. The event featured more than 35 companies that presented their business models to 450 attendees that included investors, venture capitalists, industry representatives, business leaders, service providers and entrepreneurs. 

Picasolar’s technology, a hydrogen selective emitter invented by chief technology officer Seth Shumate could improve the efficiency of solar cells by 15 percent, saving an average-sized solar panel manufacturer $120 million annually and making the panels more affordable for consumers.

“Taking a solar company to the energy capital of the world and being recognized as one of the most promising startups is a testament to our potential,” said Douglas Hutchings, Picasolar’s chief executive officer.

Picasolar won more than $300,000 in cash while competing for the U of A at graduate business plan competitions in the spring, including $250,000 for winning the MIT NSTAR Clean Energy Prize.

The Clean Energy and Technology Forum is the largest energy and clean technology venture capital conference in the southwest. It is hosted by the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship, Rice University’s initiative devoted to the support of technology commercialization, entrepreneurship education and the launch of technology companies.