Shiv Bhakta wins $100K entrepreneurship competition at MIT

Bhakta and his team won the award for their technology which can create thin as paper, flexible solar panels

Yasmin Tinwala

Shiv Bhakta, the co-founder of Active Surfaces, a company commercializing an ultrathin film solar technology based on decades of research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) won the $100K entrepreneurship competition at the prestigious educational institute.

The competition, founded in the academic year 1989-1990, has brought together students and researchers from across MIT and Greater Boston to launch their talent, ideas, and technology into leading companies. Bhakta and his co-founder Richard Swartout received the cash prize. According to the University statement, their firm Active Surfaces is leveraging material science and manufacturing innovations from labs across MIT to make ultra-thin, lightweight, and durable solar a reality.

E​xplaining the potential of the innovation, Bhakta said, “Our approach is to develop solar technology for the built environment. In a nutshell, we can create flexible solar panels that are as thin as paper, just as efficient as traditional panels, and at unprecedented cost floors, all while being applied to any surface. Same area, and the same power. That’s our motto.”

S​peaking about the plans for the next year, he said, “When we’re ready to deliver a pilotable product, it’s my job to have customers lined up ready to demonstrate this works on their buildings, sign longer-term contracts to get early revenue, and have the support we need to demonstrate this at scale. That’s the goal.”

C​urrently pursuing a Master of Science degree in Environment Engineering at MIT, Bhakta won the MIT Student Sustainability Leader Award earlier this year. The award recognizes exceptional leadership and collaboration within the sustainability community. His company also won first place at the Harvard Climate Symposium Startup Pitch competition in 2022.​

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