The Urban Future Prize Competition honors the best of this year’s cleantech innovations

Winners took home more than $100,000 in prizes and spots in New York City’s premier cleantech incubator

NYU Tandon future labs reception

BROOKLYN, New York, Thursday, April 23, 2020 – The Urban Future Prize Competition showcases the world’s most revolutionary cleantech innovations, and today the New York University Tandon School of Engineering announced the winners of the 2020 event, which was held online by its Urban Future Lab – New York City’s longest-running cleantech incubator program and which is funded by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

Participants were challenged to address climate change by developing productive and equitable solutions for smart cities; utility solutions for a digital, decentralized, and decarbonized grid; renewable energy sources; green transportation methods; ways to boost the energy efficiency of buildings; waste management solutions leading to a circular economy; and other such innovations.

The event and the prizes were funded by The New York Community Trust (The Trust). Two winners were each awarded a $50,000 cash prize and admission into the ACRE incubator at the Urban Future Lab. A $5,000 prize was also awarded to the company voted audience favorite.

  • The winner of The New York Community Trust Vision Prize was Soteria Battery Innovation Group, which created a new architecture designed to eliminate fires in lithium ion batteries and which developed an international industry consortium for deployment.
  • The winner of The New York Community Trust Impact Prize was WexEnergy, a Rochester, New York-based company providing affordable, energy-efficient window retrofit solutions.
  • The audience favorite was Carbon Upcycling Technologies, a Calgary, Alberta-based enterprise that converts carbon dioxide into solid materials for industrial applications.

“Soteria was honored to be included in such a great group of companies, all of whom are working on important problems that need to be solved as our society becomes more and more urbanized,” said CEO Brian Morin.  “We are very grateful to be selected as The New York Community Trust Vision Prize winner and look forward to learning and growing through our participation in the ACRE incubator.”

“We are honored to be chosen as the winner of The New York Community Trust Impact Prize,” said Rachel N. Rosen, CEO and co-founder of WexEnergy. “As an NYU alum, I am thrilled that WexEnergy will soon join the ACRE incubator. The combination of the cash prize and ACRE incubator support will have a tremendous impact in bringing our innovation, WindowSkin, to New York City and other urban markets.”

New York's state and city government leadership in environmental issues, thriving tech sector, and massive scale have created one of the top startup cleantech economies in the world, and the winners join a portfolio of market-ready companies at ACRE making cities, the grid, and transportation sectors smarter, cleaner, and more equitable. To date, ACRE companies have raised more than $600 million in follow-on funding, created approximately 600 green jobs, and recorded a survival rate of 90% since the program’s inception in 2009.

Competition jurors included Mike DeLucia of Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners; Ben Pickard, director of business development at National Grid Partners; Lila Preston, partner at Generation Investment Management; Sameer Reddy of Energy Impact Partners; and Kyle Teamey of Breakthrough Energy Ventures.

“Humanity’s future is urban,” Arturo Garcia-Costas, The Trust’s environmental program officer explained at the event. “Most people on the planet now live in urban areas, and the numbers are only expected to increase over the course of the 21st century. The implications will be enormous, and we’ll need new technologies, new ways of thinking about urban density, and new ways of ensuring that cities are safe, healthy, resilient, and sustainable places to live, work and play. That’s just what these companies are developing, and we couldn’t be happier to support their progress.”

Pat Sapinsley, director of cleantech initiatives at the Urban Future Lab, acknowledged the challenges young companies face, especially in light of the current pandemic, but asserted, “The Urban Future Lab is still here, helping young companies with climate change solutions to scale up.  The world still needs the solutions these companies are creating. Climate change isn’t going to wait, and neither should we.” 

About Urban Future Lab

Urban Future Lab (UFL) provides unmatched access to strategic advisement, introductions to industry stakeholders, marketing and branding support, investor networks, and access to a community of like-minded founders. UFL is leading the way to a more sustainable world by connecting people, capital, and purpose to advance market-ready solutions to address climate change. Our flagship program is ACRE, New York City's premier business incubator for cleantech and smart city startups and is funded by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. It has been supporting market-ready solutions to climate change since 2009, boasting a 90% survival rate of incubated startups which have now raised more than $600M from the private markets and employ more than 600 people. The UFL is part of the NYU Tandon School of Engineering and is located in Downtown Brooklyn. For more information, please visit or find us on Twitter.

About the New York University Tandon School of Engineering

The NYU Tandon School of Engineering dates to 1854, the founding date for both the New York University School of Civil Engineering and Architecture and the Brooklyn Collegiate and Polytechnic Institute (widely known as Brooklyn Poly). A January 2014 merger created a comprehensive school of education and research in engineering and applied sciences, rooted in a tradition of invention and entrepreneurship and dedicated to furthering technology in service to society. In addition to its main location in Brooklyn, NYU Tandon collaborates with other schools within NYU, one of the country’s foremost private research universities, and is closely connected to engineering programs at NYU Abu Dhabi and NYU Shanghai. It operates Future Labs focused on start-up businesses in downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn and an award-winning online graduate program. For more information, visit