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The Clean Energy Trust Challenge – Now Accepting Applications

By Posted on December 8, 2015

Erik BirkertsErik Berkerts
Executive Vice President, Clean Energy Trust

The Clean Energy Trust (CET) Challenge has helped launch several high-potential clean tech startups in the Midwest, and in five short years, has evolved into one of the leading competitions in the US. In April 2016, the Challenge will award over $1 million to startups and draw together venture capitalists, industry executives, civic leaders, media and the public to watch the best startups pitch their businesses. Former Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers will keynote, as will Adam Lowry – the founder of Method products. By combining access to capital with premier mentorship and national exposure, Challenge winners receive value beyond funding.

The Challenge is designed to spur innovation in clean tech, while helping the most promising companies and ideas get to market. It provides a platform for students, scientists, and the next generation of entrepreneurs to present their ideas, receive feedback, and compete for the investments in their future to expand to the next phase of their development.

On April 12, 2016, Clean Energy Trust will be awarding $1 million dollars in combined funding to the winners – but this is just the beginning of the CET’s investment. Award winners gain commercialization assistance, mentorship, access to an elite partner network, and support with marketing, branding, communications, and government relations. Since 2011, CET has invested in 29 startups across the Midwest. Clean Energy Trust Challenge companies have gone on to raise an additional $71 million in follow-on funding and have created more than 300 new jobs.

Here are some companies that thrived because of the Challenge:

  • LuminAID: A then-student company who won $100,000 at the CET Clean Energy Challenge. They later went on to become a Shark Tank Season 6 success story.
  • FGC Plasma: After winning $50,000 at the 2015 Clean Energy Trust Challenge, founder Felipe Gomez was recognized at the White House for his innovation and entrepreneurial skills.
  • Detroit’s GreenLancer, has since gone on to raise $5 million in Series B funding after winning the Clean Energy Trust Business Model Innovation Prize in 2014.
  • Chicago’s AMPY, who after winning a Clean Energy Trust Challenge award, launched a national Kickstarter campaign which raised $309,000 and was featured in Forbes Magazine, CBS This Morning, Fast Company, CNET and others.

This year, prize sponsors for the 6th Annual Clean Energy Trust Challenge include the U.S. Department of Energy, Wells Fargo, The Pritzker Foundation, United Airlines, and the Hanley Family Foundation, among others.

“CET is one of the leading sustainable technology accelerators in the U.S. and Wells Fargo is thrilled to be sponsoring a prize at the Clean Energy Trust Challenge for the 5th year,” said Ashley Grosh, VP for Environmental Affairs for Wells Fargo. “CET has successfully created a unique ecosystem, while helping us keep a pulse on emerging technologies.”

We’re excited to see which new technologies and entrepreneurs prevail at this year’s Challenge! If you think you have what it takes, please apply by January 5th at The Clean Energy Trust Challenge.


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