Saturday, November 20, 2010

Two Companies, Two Good Ideas

Minnesota CUP logoI came across a copy of the Minnesota CUP awards listing a few days ago. Small, entrepreneurial companies in six categories win seed money to help fund their start-ups. The two companies that sounded the most interesting to me weren't winners, though, but finalists.

In the clean technology and renewable energy category, Visiam stood out. They've designed an 8' x 24' thermal vessel that uses heat and rotation to sort trash right off of garbage trucks. The Visiam process reduces the trash volume by 65 percent, while it also removes organic matter and recyclables.

Small solar panel and LED lightA social entrepreneur finalist, Bright New Ideas, has designed a solar-powered LED lamp with its own small solar panel. It's meant for use in areas around the world without electricity, where people have to rely on kerosene for lighting. According to the CUP report, kerosene "can devour one-third of a family's income," not to mention that using a kerosene lamp nightly is the equivalent of smoking two packs of cigarettes a day. 2,000 of the lamps have been distributed so far. The nonprofit company can sell a subsidized lamp to a family for each $20.00 donation. They are also selling the lights, unsubsidized, to the public through their website as a way of funding the program.

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