USAID and Partners Announce Launch: Energy Innovators

For Immediate Release

Friday, November 4, 2011
USAID Press Office

WASHINGTON, DC - The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) along with fellow founding partners NASA, the U.S. Department of State, and NIKE, Inc. announced today the ten innovators selected to participate in their LAUNCH: Energy challenge. LAUNCH is a unique initiative formed to identify solutions to the world's most urgent sustainability challenges. The focus of this year's challenge is energy, and the finalists have been chosen for their groundbreaking ideas for the provision of more sustainable energy sources and improved access to energy for both developed and developing world populations.

The LAUNCH program identifies innovations poised to create transformational change in critical sustainability issues, connects innovators to thought leaders and advisors, and then provides resources and guidance in order to accelerate the implementation of the technologies and projects. The LAUNCH: Energy Forum, which brings together innovators and council members, will take place at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on November 11-13.

"Access to sustainable sources of energy is one of the 21st century's greatest challenges, and this group of innovators stands a real chance of making a significant impact in meeting that challenge," said Dr. Alex Dehgan, Science and Technology Adviser to the Administrator at USAID. "USAID is committed to supporting visionary ideas in the energy sector. We look forward to working with this remarkable group of people and to playing our part in accelerating their progress."

The innovator organizations, the individuals representing them and their innovations are listed below.

  1. Gram Power: Yashraj Khaitan - A micro/mini-grid solution for underserved communities that utilizes modular battery storage technology, energy management intelligence, and a pre-payment model.
  2. Hydrovolts: Burt Hamner - An affordable "Switchblade" turbine and "Flipwing" turbine rotor that enables reliable hydroelectricity generation from canals and other managed-flow water courses.
  3. Turbococina: Rene Nunez Suarez - A revolutionary clean and efficient wood combustion cookstove.
  4. Point Source Power: Craig Jacobson - An economical fuel cell for emerging markets that allows battery charging in cooking pits or fires.
  5. The Solanterns Initiative: Nina Marsalek - An initiative dedicated to replacing 1 million of Kenya's kerosene lanterns with solar powered lights and to creating micro-entrepreneur jobs.
  6. Powerzoa: Jamie Simon - A smart system that allows enterprise-level energy managers to automate control of energy down to the appliance level, stopping power waste.
  7. Promethean Power Systems: Sorin Grama - A rural refrigeration system for commercial cold-storage applications in off-grid and partially electrified areas of developing countries.
  8. Thermofluidics: Mark Bryant - A pumping device that uses low-temperature heat to generate fluid motion with very few moving parts.
  9. ITN Energy Systems: Ashutosh Misra - A revolutionary flexible electrochromic film for windows that allows active control of the sun's transmitted light and heat.
  10. NanoTune Technologies: Frank Wang - A new generation ultracapacitor with five to seven times greater energy storage capacity than conventional capacitors.

During the three day forum, innovators will discuss their proposed solutions to energy issues with LAUNCH Council members, who represent the business, investment, international development, policy, engineering, science, communications and sustainability sectors. The sessions are designed to identify key challenges and opportunities for the entrepreneurs' innovations in an effort to accelerate these transformative innovations into the world with impact and scale.

Profiles of the innovators and their innovations can be found at . Real-time Forum information will also be available on the website, while video of the innovators' presentations will be available soon after the forum. Interested members of the public can watch portions of the Forum live online-please check near the start of the forum for the UStream feed URL.

To learn more about LAUNCH, visit:

For more information about USAID, visit

For more information about NASA and agency programs, visit:

For more information about the U.S. Department of State, visit

For more information about NIKE, visit

Last updated: June 21, 2017

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