01 Mar 2013
Delivering the Power to Dream BigTopics:
Bart Howe (MBA 2011) envisions a time when tablet computers are self-charging
and when buildings will generate their own power. Ubiquitous Energy, a company he
cofounded that is creating a new generation of solar cells, puts these innovations
The Cambridge-based venture has developed lightweight, transparent solar panels,
which can be integrated seamlessly into everyday objects, like windows or electronic
displays. The technology's promise could lead to widespread adoption of solar power
and reduce its cost by eliminating the need for specialized installation.
Howe hopes the technology will not only increase solar adoption in the United States,
but help people in the developing world as well.
In industrialized countries, "you can imagine the impact on portable electronics—it can
give you freedom from the electric grid without changing the way the product looks or
feels," Howe says. In developing nations, he notes that it could be game changing,
"particularly in places lacking infrastructure, where sunlight is abundant."
Ubiquitous Energy began as a class project while Howe was a student at HBS. Howe's
team was so bullish on the concept that they entered it in the 2011 HBS Business Plan
Contest. Competing with 62 other teams, they earned one of three runner-up slots
and gained the confidence to launch the business, thanks also to positive feedback
from their HBS adviser and the judges. "The Business Plan Contest opened my eyes to a breadth
of possibilities," says Howe. "As HBS grads, we have a
sense of duty to dream big."
That sense, as anyone who's walked the Soldiers Field campus can attest, comes from
the School's mission—to educate leaders who make a difference in the world—and is
fueled by gifts from alumni.
As the company's COO, Howe draws on the leadership skills he honed at HBS, including
how to "motivate teams, communicate effectively, and create a clear agenda for an
organization that you're building from scratch. Studying 500 cases also gave me that
balance of analysis and decisiveness—the conviction to make decisions with incomplete
Howe has big expectations for Ubiquitous Energy. "There are two industries I think will shape the global economy over the next decade: health care and energy. It's exciting to work in one of those industries in a way that has real impact."
Class of MBA 2011, Section I