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January 8, 2018

Student startup NovoMoto wins M-WERC competition

Written By: Adam Malecek

NovoMoto, a startup that is providing clean electricity for off-grid rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa, won the grand prize of $10,000 at a pitch competition hosted by the Midwest Energy Research Consortium (M-WERC) on Dec. 14, 2017 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NovoMoto was among six startups that recently completed M-WERC’s accelerator, WERCBench Labs, a 12-week immersive program for technology innovators. At the event, the six WERCBench Labs graduates presented their companies to an audience of more than 100 of the region’s top investors and entrepreneurs.

Aaron Olson and Mehrdad Arjmand co-founded NovoMoto in 2015 as University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate students. Arjmand, who received his PhD in engineering physics in 2016, was advised by Materials Science and Engineering Professor Izabela Szlufarska. Olson is a PhD student in engineering physics, advised by nuclear engineering and engineering physics Professor Emeritus Gerald Kulcinski. To date, NovoMoto has won more than $137,000 in awards and grants, including one from the U.S. Department of Energy.

NovoMoto’s standalone solar-powered systems are less expensive, more efficient and cleaner than the kerosene and diesel currently used in rural communities in the developing world. Kerosene poses significant health and environmental risks and is expensive. The startup is currently serving a select group of beta customers in its pilot village in the Democratic Republic of Congo.