Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute



Tseai's team, left to right: Nnenna Nwosu, Akua Nkrumah, and Trevor Young

Tseai's team, left to right: Nnenna Nwosu, Akua Nkrumah, and Trevor Young

 

Tseai Energy Unlimited (www.tseai.com), a company started by University of Maryland Hillman Entrepreneurs Program student Trevor Young developing bioprocessing plants to bring electricity to underdeveloped countries and boost their economies, has been named a semifinalist in the Dell Social Innovation Competition and the Elevator Competition at Wake Forest University, UM officials announce today.

"We are honored to be selected as semifinalists for these prestigious competitions," says Young. "We plan to leverage the credibility that comes from being selected for these competitions to accelerate our business and establish our first agricultural processing plant in Sierra Leone this year."

Tseai installs small-scale agricultural processing plants that use abundant local crops, employ local farmers and make commercial products in underdeveloped communities. The company adds biomass digesters to the plants, which convert leftover agricultural waste into biogas. This biogas is then used to produce electricity.

The company plans to launch its first plant in the town of Mile 18 in Sierra Leone. The plant will process palm fruit, a crop abundant in the region, into palm oil. Waste generated while making the palm oil will be converted into methane, and then generated into electricity to support local services.

Tseai was one of 60 companies selected from more than 700 entries representing over 200 universities from countries around the world in the Dell Social Innovation Competition. Semifinalists represented the top 10 ideas voted for by the public, along with 50 projects selected by judges.

The Dell Social Innovation Competition is similar to a business-plan competition, awarding seed funding directly to the student-led venture that best meets judges' criteria. College students from around the world enter the competition online, each with a brief description of his or her innovation. Competition judges invite a small group of semifinalists to develop their ideas into detailed venture plans. Each semifinalist records a 3-minute video pitch of his or her plan. Judges then select three finalists to travel to Austin, Texas, to present their plans to a committee of leaders from business, non-profit and government sectors. During the final event, held in May at The University of Texas at Austin, all finalists receive prizes, while the overall winner receives $50,000 to launch his or her venture.

Tseai was one of 37 selected among 120 entrants for the Wake Forest Elevator Competition. A total of $100,000 in cash and prizes is awarded to competition winners.

Held March 26-27, 2010 at Wake Forest University, the competition allows students from schools across the country to test their skills at making the perfect elevator pitch. Each student team is required to perform a two-minute pitch, supply a detailed business plan, and prepare a formal presentation of their business venture.

Tseai won $10,000 in the undergraduate division and the $15,000 Warren Citrin Social Impact Award in the University of Maryland $75K Business Plan Competition in 2009.

The company's team includes Nnenna Nwosu, an alumna of the University of Maryland's department of agricultural and resource economics, and Akua Nkrumah, a UM senior pursuing a degree in environmental science and technology with a specialization in ecological design.

Tseai has worked closely with Stephanie Lansing, assistant professor in the department of environmental science and technology, to develop its small-scale, anaerobic digestion technology.


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