Students Compete to Bring Innovation from BU Lab to the Marketplace on April 9

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BOSTON (4-4-11) — Engineering and business students from Boston University and two other area colleges will compete in an April 9 contest to devise product strategy for an emerging lighting technology being developed at BU. A panel of judges drawn largely from industry will decide who gets the prize money.

The Smart Lighting Challenge will pit teams comprised of engineering, management, international relations and science students against each other to sell potential investors on technology created at the NSF Smart Lighting Engineering Research Center. Researchers at BU and Smart Lighting partner institutions are developing LED lights that can function as light sources, communications media, and even detect the presence of harmful biological or chemical agents.

This innovative controllable lighting technology leverages all of the capabilities of solid-state light and could transform how we use light. In addition to providing comfortable illumination, these LEDs can transmit information between enabled devices such as computers and thermostats without a perceptible change in room light, and with greater speed, security and energy efficiency than current radio-wave technology. Built-in optical sensors could also warn of environmental hazards.

But, like all new technology, it requires capital investment to break into the marketplace. Therein lies the Smart Lighting Challenge.

Nine teams – seven from BU and one each from Tufts University and Babson College – are made up of undergraduate and graduate students. Each team will pitch its ideas to the panel of judges as if it were presenting them to potential investors. The judges will include executives from Chevron, Osram Sylvania, Philips Color Kinetics, and other companies, as well as representatives from the center. The winning team will get a $1,000 cash prize; second and third place finishers will also receive cash awards.

The competition – conceived and run by students in the BU Energy Club – will take place on April 9 at 5 p.m. at the Boston University School of Management, 595 Commonwealth Ave. in Boston. The public is invited. For more information about the Smart Lighting Challenge visit the Smart Lighting Challenge website.

MEDIA NOTE: To arrange for parking at the event, working press should call (617) 353-9766 no later than 5 p.m. Thursday, April 7.