Clean Energy Trust Announces Finalists for the First Clean Energy Challenge; $130,000 in Prizes to Be Awarded March 3

Entrepreneurship Thrives as More Than 70 Illinois Clean Energy Businesses Enter Inaugural Competition

CHICAGO--()--The Clean Energy Trust is excited to announce the finalists in the first Clean Energy Challenge. A distinguished panel of independent evaluators selected 10 companies to compete for the $100,000 early-stage business prize. Five finalists will vie for $30,000 in concept-stage funding.

“The evaluators were extremely impressed by the quality and originality of the business plans they reviewed and there was a lively debate during the final selections.”

More than 70 applications from across Illinois were submitted for businesses in all aspects of clean energy, from battery usage and solar panels to smart grid technology and biomass development. The strong response, combined with the quality of the companies, resulted in two rounds of evaluations before the final selections were made, according to Amy Francetic, Clean Energy Trust Executive Director.

“These were highly competitive applications, showing innovation and entrepreneurship are thriving in Illinois,” Francetic said. “The evaluators were extremely impressed by the quality and originality of the business plans they reviewed and there was a lively debate during the final selections.”

Early-stage business finalists

Company       Location       Category

Agentis Energy


Smart Grid

Clean Urban Energy

Chicago Smart Grid

Energy Recovery Technologies

Evanston Energy Efficiency

General Biomass Company

Chicago Biofuels

Intelligent Generation

Chicago Smart Grid

NextGen Solar

Chicago Solar


Chicago Energy IT

PV Power

Chicago Solar

Root3 Technologies

Chicago Energy Efficiency

Sol Xorce

Northbrook Solar

Concept-level finalists

Company       Location       Category

Lotus Creative Innovations

Compton Wind

Orbeon Technologies

Chicago Building Technology

Sun Phocus

Chicago Solar

S2E Solar

Evanston Solar

Thermal Conservation Technologies

Chicago Energy Efficiency

All finalists will receive mentoring to help them prepare to present their business plans to an all-star panel of judges--including venture capitalists, corporate investors and business leaders--at the Midwest Energy Forum March 3, 2011 at the University of Chicago’s Gleacher Center. The event will feature panel discussions and keynote speakers on various clean technology topics, as well as presentations from the finalists. To register for the Midwest Energy Forum at the early-bird discounted rate, visit by January 31.

“The Clean Energy Challenge is about connecting the most innovative clean energy ideas with the business and finance experts who know how to develop new technology for commercial deployment,” Francetic said.“This competition shook the bushes to find the best ideas and early-stage companies and we’re very pleased with the extraordinary people and concepts we’ve found.”

Funding for The Clean Energy Challenge is provided by the U.S. Department of Energy, Acciona, Arcelor Mittal, City of Chicago Department of Environment, Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center, Google, Illinois Technology Association, Invenergy, Ungaretti and Harris, University of Chicago, University of Illinois, University of Illinois at Chicago, the Clean Energy Trust and the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship at Chicago Booth.

Additional supporting sponsors include Argonne National Laboratory, Illinois Institute of Technology, Northwestern University, Kauffman Foundation and TechAmerica.

About the Clean Energy Trust

The Clean Energy Trust is a clean energy business accelerator. The founding board members of the Clean Energy Trust are: Nicholas Pritzker, Tao Capital (Trust Co-Chair); Michael Polsky, Invenergy (Trust Co-Chair); Antonio Gracias, Valor Equity Partners (Treasurer); Paula Crown, Henry Crown & Company; Richard Sandor, Environmental Financial Products; Tim Schwertfeger, Former CEO Nuveen; and Keith Crandell, ARCH Ventures.

The Clean Energy Trust was awarded a $1.05 million “Innovation Ecosystem Development Initiative” by the U.S. Department of Energy. Support for this grant is provided by state and local government, research partners, corporations, investors, foundations, and trade groups. The consortium includes: Illinois Institute of Technology, Northwestern University, University of Chicago, University of Illinois, University of Illinois at Chicago, Argonne National Laboratory, Acciona, Arcelor Mittal, Apex Venture Partners, ARCH Venture Partners, Center for Neighborhood Technologies, ComEd, The Chicago Community Trust, Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center, Deloitte, Global Midwest Alliance, Illinois Science and Technology Coalition, Illinois Technology Association, Illinois Ventures, Intellectual Ventures, The Joyce Foundation, Kauffman Foundation, LaSalle Investments Inc., Lincoln Renewable Energy LLC, McGuire Woods, Midwest Energy and Sustainability Leadership Alliance, Neal Gerber Eisenberg, New World Ventures, Norwottuck Charitable Trust, Sidley Austin LLP, SoCore Energy, City of Chicago, the State of Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and TechAmerica.

Visit to learn more.


Aileron Communications
Sheridan Chaney, 312-629-9400
Clean Energy Trust
Amy Francetic, 847-899-2225


Release Summary

Clean Energy Trust announces finalists in the first clean energy challenge. More than 70 Illinois clean energy business start-ups enter competition.

Clean Energy Trust