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WSU math student launches solar heating business

DETROIT, Nov. 15, 2009 (AP): A Wayne State University mathematics grad student says he's well on his way to establishing a solar water heating business with help from an innovation promotion program at the Detroit school.

David Collins of Ann Arbor started Qisol to promote his idea for more efficient solar water heating monitoring technology. His was one of six student-run businesses chosen for Wayne State's E2 Challenge program.

The program is housed at the TechTown research and technology park and ``supports Wayne State students in exploring the potential of their own startup company and preparing for outside investment,'' university spokeswoman Amy Oprean wrote on the school's Web site.

As a winner, Collins got financial support and a summer of mentoring.

Several years ago, Collins said he wondered how much energy his own solar hot water heater produced. He said he surveyed experts and found system monitors weren't readily available.

``I would talk to installers, distributors, even state representatives interested in subsidizing solar water heaters and was told repeatedly that if I had a product to sell, they would buy it,'' Collins said in a statement.

Collins said he now has a prototype product as well as three electrical engineers and two Web designers working for him. He's applied for a Small Business Innovation Research grant from the U.S. Department of Energy and said he plans to launch his business in early 2010.

``A great idea should never be dismissed or put on hold simply because young entrepreneurs don't know everything about developing a business,'' said E2 Challenge director Eric Stief. He said he hopes participants gain skills for ``confidently pushing forward innovative ideas'' that will help the Detroit and Michigan economies.

On the Net:  TechTown: http://techtownwsu.org





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