Portland State University and Wells Fargo Bank awarded $12,500 each to two budding startup companies Thursday in their inaugural Cleantech Challenge.

Diatomix and Mobius Microfarms will share the $25,000 prize.

Diatomix developed solar materials called diatoms that may have multiple applications, including improved solar-cell efficiency. The team behind Diatomix includes physics researcher Haian Li, graduate physics student Lester Lampert and Jun Jiao, a PSU physics and mechanical and materials engineering professor.

Mobius Microfarms built an aquaponic (water-based) system that enables restaurants to grow produce and raise fish in a closed-loop system on site.

That team includes recent PSU biology alum Anne Phillip and PSU undergraduate mechanical engineering students John Talk, Matthew Stewart and Taylor Rice.

Wells Fargo seeded the new program with $75,000 in April.

Six semifinalists were chosen from among 21 applicants, and those six exhibited their prototypes Wednesday night at the Oregon BEST Fest, a clean tech conference in Portland.

The award was announced Thursday morning at the conference.

In a second award inaugurated at this week’s conference, Oregon BEST and the International Living Future Institute awarded money for two inventions that could reduce toxins in building materials.

A $10,000, first-place award for the Oregon BEST Red List Design Challenge went to Sukita Reay Crimmel of Claylin LLC for her Ready-Mix Earthen Flooring. That is made from a blend of Oregon clay soil, sand, pigment and chopped straw, and is hand-troweled smooth with a blend of beeswax and oils. The material is designed as an alternative to hardwood, carpeting and concrete flooring, which often contain toxic materials.

The $5,000 second-place prize went to Zander Eckblad, an undergrad at the University of Oregon, for a plant-based cellulose fiber insulation. That has the potential of being three times as effective as fiberglass insulation at one-eighth the cost.

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