Sanergy Takes 2011 MIT $100K Prize, Audience Choice Award For Its Toilet Sanitation Technology

5/11/11Follow @xconomy

Sanergy gets kudos for scoring the daily double at tonight’s MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition. The team won both the $100,000 grand prize and the audience choice award, for pitching its toilet and sanitation systems that convert human waste to fertilizer and electricity in developing countries.

Sanergy, the finalist in the emerging markets track of the competition, said it’s out to change things for the 2.5 billion people across the globe who lack access to clean toilets. It’s targeting Kenya as the testing ground for its inexpensive, high quality sanitation centers that work with local entrepreneurs. They collect the waste in clean containers and convert it to electricity and fertilizer for a profit. Sanergy says by the end of this year, it will have 60 locations operating, serving 5,000 people.

The pitch was definitely a crowd pleaser, also scoring Sanergy the $5,000 audience choice award. Their closing plea, “Join us as we turn shit into gold,” must have done the trick.

There was an impressive showing across all tracks—mobile, Web/IT, cleantech, products and services, and life sciences—at the awards ceremony, with contestants innovating in mobile sensor technology, epilepsy treatments, file organization, computer chip cooling, and aircraft cargo. My colleague Greg got a preview of the finalists and their pitches at a dinner at Bob Metcalfe’s Back Bay townhouse last night, so check out his article for more of their stories.

This year the $100K competition added a contest for teams working on products built on linked data technology, which uses the Web to connect pieces of data that previously were unlinked. (World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee and other Web gurus launched a class at MIT last year focused on the technology.) Convexic, LinkCycle, and UpKast shared that $10,000 award, sponsored by Thomson Reuters. Read more about them here.

The 2011 $100K awards event also recognized the winners of the first-ever YouPitch segment of the contest, where students from across the globe could submit 60-second pitches on YouTube. Clear Ear, an MIT and Stanford team working on a safer, more efficient method for cleaning out patient ear wax, was flown to tonight’s event  and given $2,000. Listen up for their pitch here.

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