UA Team Picasolar Wins Canadian Business Plan Competition

A team from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville took the grand prize at a Canadian business competition for a process to improve solar cell efficiency, the UA announced Thursday.

The team, Picasolar, won $20,000 for its first place prize at the IBK Capital-Ivey Business Plan Competition held Jan. 25-26 at the University of Western Ontario. The team was then invited to the Venture Labs Investment Competition at the University of Texas at Austin in May, an event that bills itself as the "Super Bowl of business competitions."

Picasolar's process was invented by team member Seth Shumate and could improve solar cell efficiency by 15 percent, which could save manufacturers between $5 million and $10 million annually per production line.

Shumate has also been a part of Silicon Solar Solutions, a company in Fayetteville that is attempting to increase solar cell efficiency.

Other students on the team were Trish Flanagan, Matthew Young and Michael Miller.

Another UA team, ParadigMed, also advanced to the final round in the competition. ParadigMed manufactures a cost-effective device for adult male circumcision, intended to address challenges associated with reducing heterosexual transmission of HIV, primarily in Africa.

This is the second year consecutively that a team from UA has won the competition. Learning DifferentiatED took the top spot in 2012.