In June 2017, Professor Ernesto Julio Calvo won the DSM Bright Minds Challenge for Inquimae. Traditionally, lithium - the lifeblood of battery technology - is available through one source and one source only: extraction from giant salt lakes or ‘flats. It’s a very slow process that wastes millions of gallons of water while releasing sodium chloride and magnesium sulfate waste into the air and soil. Or at least, it was. Ernesto’s revolutionary electrochemical method uses solar power to extract the lithium…but with zero environmental impact.
Our Top 10 finalists will pitch their solutions at Greentown Labs in Massachusetts on April 12 and will get feedback from an influential panel of judges from the worlds of business, academia and the scientific establishment. The Top 3 solutions will be selected based on their potential to scale, achieving rapid and advanced societal progress.
We’ve asked our expert judges to share what each of them is looking to see in the winning solutions and they’ve provided some great tips too!
Pieter Wolters, DSM
Authenticity, drive and curiosity. Keep it succinct!
Jessica Long, Accenture
I will be looking at the business opportunity of the idea - what is the potential market and does the innovators have the right skills to bring it successfully to the market. My advice: Don’t be nervous, we’re here to help!
Roebyem Anders, Sungevity
Ideas that are original, but also have the power to make impact in mainstreaming solar. We are now in the ‘early adopter’ phase of the solar technology adoption curve. We need to rapidly move to the early majority, solar affordable for everyone. My tip: make it memorable, bring a device or a personal story that captures the essence of your new product/technology or the essence of why you embarked on this journey.
Sarah Kurtz, NREL
I look forward to hearing well-thought out plans that have the potential to change the world in some significant way. The plans should make scientific sense, be appealing to the customers and have a positive impact on the world.
Dan Davies, Solarcentury
Differentiation. Understanding of why similar innovations/innovators who have been in the same space have not succeeded. And then a clear articulation of what the step change is to make THIS one a success. They should understand and appreciate what the challenges are to get their solution to market, and how the BM prize will help this. They must show a willingness to take advice from the experts, not be too proud to adjust components if the experts experience thinks it wise.
Madelon Janssen, DSM
It would be great to see passion and drive. Go for it, and enjoy it!