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PowerClip: emergency power source secures UNICEF grant for development

UNICEF has given a grant to a team of local cofounders to bring their prototype device for drawing power from car batteries to the manufacturing phase.

The PowerClip. Used by permission.

The cofounders behind emergency energy provider PowerClip see themselves as unusually lucky because they’ll be finalizing their manufacturing process with feedback from a big likely customer in mind.

UNICEF has given the team of four a $15,000 grant to develop its third prototype and come up with a design that can be manufactured. The team is working now primarily on identifying the right materials that will provide the right blend of affordability, lightness and durability.

Their product, the PowerClip, won the team the title of New York’s Next Top Maker this summer, which came with $11,000 in financial support, connection to a mentor at Siemens and business development support from NYCEDC.

Robin Reid

Robin Reid.

The PowerClip is meant to give people a source of power for USB devices in an emergency situation. It’s a device that can turn a car battery into a power source.

It also delivers the energy more efficiently than using power clips and A/C adapters, in part because there is simply much fewer parts and wires involved, says cofounder Robin Reid.

Reid told us that one of the innovations she hoped to achieve with the clip was to make a device with a use so obvious that a person wouldn’t even need to be able to read to figure out how to use it.

While UNICEF does not currently have teams that they dispatch into emergency situations, Reid told us, the product is helping the global organization envision ways its existing offices could use technology, such as the PowerClip, to become communication hubs, should they be located in places subject to some sort of natural or manmade disaster.

“UNICEF is basically our model customer, so we’re lucky to have our design process informed by a likely client,” Reid said. She also told us that UNICEF has made similar grants to two other early stage businesses.

The product was created by four students at NYU-ITP. Two of those confounders are now graduated and focused on bringing the PowerClip to market, Surya Mattu of Williamsburg and Reid of Kensington. The team got UNICEF’s attention when they came up with the basic idea during a class run by UNICEF at ITP. Mattu brought his skills as a circuit engineer and Reid as an experience designer to the process. Their other cofounders, still involved on an advisory capacity, areĀ Frederico Zannier andĀ Phil Groman.

The team is now on its third prototype and expects to have a completed business plan and a design that’s ready for manufacture in the next five months.

“None of us have every manufactured anything before,” Reid said, “So this has been a huge learning process for us.”

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