Innovative Student Groups Pitch Startup Ideas at GW Competition

December 14, 2022

PhD student Lingchen Kong and associate professor Xitong Liu

SEAS’ Lingchen Kong and Professor Xitong Liu won the Tech Venture Track competition in this year’s Pitch George competition!

“This year’s Pitch George had a total of 58 applications, and seven of them pitched in the final round. An additional six teams received the Be Kind Tech Fund, administered by Globant Ventures.

Environmental engineering Ph.D. student Lingchen Kong was one such winner who had more of a refined product to pitch. His idea, called Ellexco, offers an innovative technology for direct production of lithium hydroxide from geothermal brine, using electricity as the sole input. He and his teammate, School of Engineering and Applied Science assistant professor Xitong Liu, won the Tech Venture Track competition, also with a $1,000 prize.

Ellexco’s goal is to make lithium extraction cost-effective and environmentally friendly, especially as the demands for the element spike 500% by 2050, according to the Department of Energy (DOE).

Kong and Liu founded Ellexo in 2021 and have won two different phases and are now in the third phase of the Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize competition, which is run through the DOE. Kong is grateful Pitch George allowed them to think about Ellexco through a business lens to compliment the science behind the product.

“The DOE competition is more technical, and the Pitch George is more catered to the financial and commercial side,” Kong said. “So, we really got very useful feedback from the judges about how we have to think carefully about our business model.””

Read the full article on GW Today.