Clean Energy Challenge Applications Open for Midwest Business Competition

Chicago (Press Release – November 1, 2011) – The Clean Energy Trust (CET) today announced that applications are now being accepted for the 2012 Clean Energy Challenge, a clean energy business competition supported by the U.S Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

Cash prizes totaling $250,000 will be awarded to the best early-stage companies and student-led Midwest businesses with the potential to bring new clean energy technology to the marketplace.

The inaugural competition, held earlier this year, drew more than 70 applications from Illinois companies working in all aspects of clean energy. The 2012 competition expanded to include businesses from Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin and now features a Student Challenge, which is being heavily promoted to universities throughout the region.

“The first Challenge delivered so many outstanding companies, many of which have gone to receive venture funding. This year we expect strong applications generated from business accelerators across the region,” said Amy Francetic, Clean Energy Trust executive director. “There are a number of viable clean energy businesses that can, with the right exposure and assistance, grow into sustainable companies.”

Finalists will present their business plans to a panel of judges including venture capitalists, corporations and business leaders at an all-day event on March 1st at the Spertus Center in Chicago. Semi-finalists in both categories – early stage companies and student teams – will be matched with sector experts and experienced entrepreneurs to prepare for the March 1st event.

CET and its anchor partners are collaborating with leading energy accelerators and top-tier Midwestern universities and research institutions to expand the Challenge throughout the region. The Student Challenge winner will receive a $100,000 grand prize and go on to compete at the Department of Energy national student competition in Washington.

The application portal closes December 5, 2011. For more information on application procedures and eligibility go to the Clean Energy Trust website.

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

About the Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy:

DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy invests in clean energy technologies that strengthen the economy, protect the environment, and reduce dependence on foreign oil. Click here for the Funding Opportunity Announcement about DOE’s efforts to promote a new generation of energy entrepreneurs. For EERE’s Commercialization website, click here.

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