The Clean Energy Challenge Adds $100,000 Grand Prize For Student Business Concepts





Chicago (Press Release – October 5, 2011) – The Clean Energy Trust (CET) announced today that it will expand the 2012 Clean Energy Challenge to include student business concepts from across the Midwest region. The $100,000 Student Challenge grand prize, to be awarded March 1 in Chicago, is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Incorporating the Student Challenge into the 2012 Clean Energy Challenge broadens CET’s efforts to spur innovation and grow strong businesses across the Midwest. CET and its anchor partners – Cleantech Open, Nortech , University of Michigan, Purdue University and Washington University – are collaborating with 16 other Midwestern universities to expand the Clean Energy Challenge to universities throughout the region. Eighteen semi-finalists will be matched with sector experts and experienced entrepreneurs to prepare for the $100,000 Student Challenge in Chicago.

“The competition enables students from across the region to develop their ideas with the support of experienced mentors. Industry-leading venture capitalists and strategic investors will select the most promising ideas for funding. We hope this will encourage the next generation of clean energy entrepreneurs and further our mission of making the Midwest a powerhouse of clean energy businesses,” said Amy Francetic, CET executive director.

The Clean Energy Trust is among six regional grantees, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, awarded funds for regional clean energy student business-creation competitions.

Winners from the six regional events will compete in the U.S. Department of Energy’s national student competition in Washington. The awards are the first federal funding for a nationwide student business plan competition and are part of the DOE’s innovation and commercialization efforts.

The 2012 Clean Energy Challenge competition is open to businesses and students from Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin. Applications will be accepted in five categories: renewable energy, low-carbon transportation, Smart Grid, energy efficiency and carbon abatement. Complete rules and criteria are available at http://www.cleanenergytrust.org/events/about-the-challenge/.

Student Challenge finalists will compete for the grand prize at an all-day event March 1 at the Spertus Center in Chicago. In addition to prize money, winners will also receive mentoring from CET’s broad network and anchor partner experts, matched specifically to complement each team’s needs.

Plans may be submitted beginning November 1, 2011 online at http://cleanenergychallenge2012.istart.org. The application deadline is December 5, 2011.

About Clean Energy Trust:

The Clean Energy Trust was founded by prominent business and civic leaders to accelerate the pace of clean energy innovation in the Midwest. The Trust is supported by grants from the U.S. Department of Energy, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, the Joyce Foundation, the Chicago Community Trust, the Small Business Administration and donations from over 50 investors, corporations, universities and trade groups. For more information, visit www.cleanenergytrust.org.

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