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FLoW Winner Sweeps Top Prizes at DOE’s National Competition


PASADENA, CA – June 17, 2014

REEcycle, the team whose passion is turning electronic waste into resources for superefficient wind turbines and electric motors, has taken the top prize at the DOE’s National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition (NCEBPC), in Washington D.C. The team also won the People’s Choice Award, which was decided by a public vote on Energy.gov, and the Audience Investor Choice Award, a new award this year that was determined through live audience participation.

REEcycle, from the University of Houston, was the Regional Winner of FLoW which represents the Western Region of the DOE’s NCEBPC, and is overseen by Caltech’s Resnick Sustainability Institute. “We applaud this team of students who had the foresight to see the opportunity to power alternative energy solutions by using electronic waste,” said Neil Fromer, the executive director of the Resnick Sustainability institute. “The key to addressing the sustainability challenges that the world faces is to be creative in finding new ways to solve hard problems.”

At the two day Washington event, each of the six regional finalists of the competition presented their business ideas to a prestigious group of judges from the public and private sectors. These plans detailed how the teams could bring that technology to market, including financing, product design, production scale-up and marketing. As the winner of the competition, REEcycle will receive technical, legal and other assistance from competition sponsors to help grow their business, and commercialize their clean energy technology.

REEcycle’s process extracts Neodymium and Dysprosium, two precious rare earth elements, essential in manufacturing clean energy technologies, from discarded hard drive magnets. Rare Earth elements are critical to manufacturing the most efficient wind turbines and electric motors – two technologies that will drive the energy efficient future. Retrieving these elements makes the US less dependent on unpredictable foreign sources such as China, the world’s largest exporter of rare earth elements.

The DOE’s national competition featured six strong contenders but REEcycle won with its compelling commercial proposition and the team’s already strong business foundation. This included early agreements with both potential customers and raw material suppliers. “The students showed a maturity that left no stone unturned in contacting and securing relationships and partnerships on all sides that will accelerate their business,” says Stephanie Yanchinski, Executive Director of FLoW.

About First Look West (FLoW)

FLoW is the largest clean energy business plan competition for university students in the western United States FLoW is a consortium of universities running the western region of the Department of Energy’s $2 million National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition (NCEBPC) for university students. NCEBPC was launched under Startup America, the White House campaign to inspire and promote entrepreneurship. This national initiative enables student participants to gain the skills required to build new businesses and transform promising energy technologies from U.S. universities and National Laboratories into innovative new energy products.

For more information contact:
Stephanie C. Yanchinski
Executive Director, FLoW
626-395-1968
stephanie.yanchinski@caltech.edu