solar ivy

Grantee news: Student ventures building momentum

More good news from some of our former E-Teams.


Sproxil, which is tackling the problem of counterfeit pharmaceutical drugs in Africa using SMS, has expanded into India.

Therapeutic Systems is about to start clinical trials for its autism treatment vest.

Solar Ivy is growing, adding new installations and clients.


Solar Ivy launches tensile solar panels - versatile and attractive!

2006 E-Team grantee Solar Ivy is taking solar panel design and application into a new paradigm of versatility. Solar Ivy has teamed with architect Benjamin Wheeler Howes to create a new solar system: the tensile solar structure.

GOOD Magazine has the story here!





Fast Company features NCIIA women grantees

Women inventors are thin on the ground in the US. In her latest blog, Fast Company's  Alice Korngold investigates how young women start inventing. She came to NCIIA to learn more, and spoke to two successful, entreprenurial NCIIA inventors: Patricia Compas, co-inventor of the DayOne Waterbag™ and founder of DayOne Response, Inc. , and Teresita Cochran, co-founder of Solar Ivy, which designs and sells a unique solar panel system resembling ivy for building fascades.



Fast Company's view of NCIIA and three great student companies!

Fast Company's expert blogger, Alice Korngold, came to us and our funder, The Lemelson Foundation, looking to explore how companies emerge from university environments. Read her perspective on NCIIA's 'company development' model and three student-led companies that we've supported.


SMIT Solar Ivy featured in Popular Science, and more

Former E-Team SMIT Solar Ivy continue to make headlines, as they develop their ivy-esque solar panel technology. Here's the stories from the summer:

Popular Science: Lightweight Solar Panels that Mimic Ivy

Departures: Solar Energy with Style The Ripple Effect

Dwell: The Future of Solar

Inhabitat: Inspiring Examples of Groundbreaking Green Technology



NewsTracker - NCIIA's work in the news


Ducha Halo portable shower (Sept 2011)

Solar sanitation system (Sept 2011)

InfantAIR ventilator for newborns (Sept 2011)

Brilliance jaundice treatment incubator (Sept 2011)

Sproxil anti-counterfeit drug texting system.(Sept 2011)


Invention of the Year 2011: Antenatal Screening Kit

Lightweight Solar Panels that Mimic Ivy (Solar Ivy, 2010)

Invention of the Year 2010: OneBreath ventilator

Invention of the Year 2009: Ecovative Design


Tinkerers saving the world (2011)

Women innovators saving the world: with NCIIA grantees Tricia Compas and Teresita Cochran (2011)

Steelcase adopts the Ecocradle packaging system (2010)

Most innovative companies: GoodGuide (2010)


 Industrial strength mushrooms (2010)


America's best young entrepreneurs: Lifeserve Innovations (2010)

NCIIA's best student innovators (2009)

Recent articles

Therapeutic Systems (local story in Hampshire Daily Gazette)

Therapeutic Systems keeping up the pressure (Oct. 2011)

Under 30s making it happen (Joseph Steig byline in Xconomy - Oct. 2011)

Balancing needs and discovery in biomedical engineering education (Aug. 2011)

Ecovative Design receives equity funding (May 2011)

ABC NCIIA's best student teams (Open Minds) '11 NCIIA's Open Minds '11

Innovation News Daily: NCIIA's Open Minds 2011 NCIIA's Open Minds 2011

Ecovative partners with Ford to make car components (April 2011)

Huffington Post story and PBS video: Ecovative Design's packaging innovation (2011)

NewsTracker 2010

NewsTracker 2009






Grow (Solar Ivy) named New York Times 'Idea of 2009'

We're happy to see 2007 E-Team Grow (Solar Ivy) recognized by the New York Times in its 'Ideas of 2009' issue. Read more about this innovative approach to capturing solar energy.



Clean energy hits home

E-Team grantees focusing on new ways to meet residential energy needs

Even a brief look at the statistics regarding home energy consumption in the US can be staggering: American households consume 355 billion kwh per year for heating and cooling alone; US homes produce 21 percent of the country’s total global warming pollution; by 2020, the US residential sector will account for 11.4 quadrillion BTUs of end-use energy annually…In the long run, satisfying our energy needs while decreasing CO² emissions will require a coordinated effort on a number of fronts, including developing renewable energies and increasing energy efficiency.

Over the years, a number of NCIIA E-Teams have looked to do just that, finding newer, cleaner ways to harness energy for home use and helping us make our homes more efficient. We’re happy to report that some of their efforts are starting to pay off in real commercial outcomes.

Heat Assured Systems

One of our first E-Teams, Heat Assured Systems began as a group of senior engineering and economics majors at Swarthmore College determining the feasibility of a residential heating system that could operate during grid power outages. After a series of E-Team grants and an initial business planning effort, the company is up and running along with its subsidiary, Heat Assured Systems of New York. Their product is EROHS: the Efficient, Robust, Off-grid Heating System. Based on a patented scheme that includes an innovative proprietary controller, EROHS solves two problems at once by enabling several types of home heating systems to function normally during power grid outages and improving energy efficiency when the grid is operational. It’s the kind of integrated, multi- purpose technology that we’ll need in order to reduce our carbon footprint.

Commenting on EROHS’ commercialization potential, Heat Assured Systems President Fred Orthlieb said, “Tests of the EROHS prototype have exceeded the company’s performance goals. We’re conducting field tests this winter and plan to launch the first generation of the product commercially shortly thereafter. With energy prices rising and the green economy finally taking hold, the timing could not be better.”

Solar Ivy

Another novel clean energy system comes from a brother-and- sister startup team from Brooklyn, NY, that received E-Team funding in 2006. Teresita and Samuel Cochran founded SMIT (Sustainably Minded Interactive Technology), whose first product is GROW, a hybrid solar and wind panel designed to resemble ivy vines. Based on principles of biomimicry in which technology imitates nature, GROW consists of flexible solar foil molded to look like ivy and piezoelectric generators that are activated by the leaves. The panels are beautiful, too, hanging vertically on the walls of buildings to form a product that is both environmentally and aesthetically sound.

While GROW hasn’t made it to market as yet—they’re currently seeking investor funding—the product has been featured in a number of media outlets (Fox Business, Planet Green, Inhabitat) and design exhibits. The exposure is generating demand: according to Teresita Cochran, they’re getting calls weekly from companies in France, Italy, Great Britain, Greece and South Africa saying they want GROW now.


One home energy E-Team that has already met with success is i-conserve, a Penn State company. I-conserve developed the Home Energy Monitor™, a handheld device that communicates with a home’s utility meter, graphing electrical consumption, estimating utility bills, showing the current price of electricity, and calculating the carbon footprint generated by the building, all in real time. The idea, of course, is to get people to understand how much electricity they’re using—and encourage them to use less.

In November of 2007, i-conserve sold its IP portfolio and technology assets to Greenbox, a California company creating an interactive energy management platform for the home.


One of our newer green building grantees is ecoMOD, an ongoing project at the University of Virginia in which students construct affordable, modular homes that use 30-50% less energy than similar houses. This one hits on the concepts of both equity and environmental responsibility: not only should good housing be affordable for all, it should be lean and green as well. This means integrating a whole suite of energy-saving techniques and devices into the house: solar water heaters, passive design, using reclaimed materials, designing for disassembly and much more. They’ve built five houses so far, funded by a variety of non-profits, corporations and the EPA.

According to PI Paxton Marshall, the group is pursuing two commercialization initiatives. “We’re promoting the house designs to affordable housing agencies and modular manufacturers. Meanwhile, we’re promoting our residential energy monitoring system as a solution to provide residents timely feedback on their energy use, and also as a building block for developing energy-saving automation and control applications to interface with smart grid technologies.”


Each of these companies is bringing to market technology that we can use to make our homes more efficient in the long run—small parts of a larger effort that will contribute to the green economy.


Focus on GROW continues

The GROW Solar Ivy phenomenon continues! Fox's 'Start-Up Summer' show features GROW inventors and founders Teresita and Samuel Cochran.

Watch the interview here. 


Cool technology file: Solar ivy's GROWth

Former E-Team GROW's solar ivy technology is flourishing. The wind and solar power generating photovoltaic leaves system, which can be easily integrated on the side of a building to produce energy, was featured in the MoMa Exhibition: Design and the Elastic Mind and was a concept design for a five-star luxury hotel in Zayed Bay, Abu Dhabi.

Read more about GROW's growth at


Pratt Design Incubator - SMIT (Solar Ivy)

Pratt Institute, 2006 - $14,700

This E-Team is developing Solar Ivy, a solar panel designed to resemble ivy vines. Solar Ivy consists of flexible photovoltaic foil molded to look like ivy and piezoelectric generators acting as leaves. The foil produces solar energy. The team, the first to come out of Pratt Institute's Sustainably Minded Interactive Technology (SMIT) group, has partnered with a solar foil manufacturer, DayStar Technologies, and a piezoelectric manufacturer, Face International. The team intends the product to be an aesthetically pleasing alternative to standard solar panels, and plan to target multiple markets, including commercial, residential, and the developed and developing worlds.


Since 2011, Solar Ivy has focusing on developing and commercializing its Solar Ivy product.

In 2009, SMIT exhibited Solar Ivy at the MoMa Exhibition: Design and the Elastic Mind, and Design Philadelphia, where they were commissioned to outfit a bus stop in solar ivy. People who were waiting for the bus could simply plug in their cell phone to charge their battery. Solar Ivy has been featured in a number of magazines and was a concept design for a five-star luxury hotel in Zayed Bay, Abu Dhabi. Most recently, SMIT exhibited Solar Ivy at Dwell on Design for the Designboom Kitchen Ecology: Recipes for Good Design.

More media coverage:

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