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Clean Energy Challenge to Award $500,000 to Startups and Students

The Chicago-based Clean Energy Trust is ready to award $500,000 to startups who only have one week left to submit applications within the next week.

Finalists selected for the 2014 Clean Energy Challenge will receive mentoring and training from the Trust to prepare for the competition on April 3 Chicago. The panel of investors, researchers and green business leaders will evaluate business plans for new green energy technologies from startup owners, students and researchers from the Midwest who will vie for nine monetary prizes.

Student and startup competitors should apply online by Jan. 8 in one of two categories—early state or student. Finalists will be announced on Jan. 23.

The SiNode Systems team from Northwestern University was a finalist in the 2012 Clean Energy Challenge

“Applying for the Clean Energy Challenge should be a top priority for any clean energy startup that’s looking to move to the next level,” said Amy Francetic, Clean Energy Trust CEO. “Leading venture capitalists, corporations and government agencies increasingly rely on the Challenge to provide a window on the next big ideas in cleantech.”

The Challenge has only been around since 2010, but has already produced consecutive winners of the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Clean Energy Business Competition. Previous finalists have also secured $40 million in outside investments, created more than 200 jobs in the Midwest and registered more than 25 patents.

Competitors have been awarded a total of $750,000 since the contest's inception. Here are the prizes to be awarded: 

  • $100,000: Wells Fargo Grand Prize for Clean Energy Entrepreneurship

  • $100,000: U.S. Department of Energy Prize for Student Entrepreneurship

  • $100,000: Clean Energy Trust Prize for Early-Stage Entrepreneurship

  • $60,000: Six State Champion Prizes for Student Entrepreneurship

  • $50,000: United, Boeing and Honeywell UOP Aviation Energy Prize

  • $25,000: McCaffery Interests Prize for Building Efficiency

  • $20,000: ComEd Prize for Female Entrepreneurship

  • $10,000: Ameren Prize for Missouri Early-Stage Entrepreneurship

  • $10,000: Invenergy Prize for Wind Industry Innovation

"The Clean Energy Challenge is more than just a business plan competition," Anurag Garg, the 2013 Challenge winner, said. "It’s not about who wins or loses. It’s a process.

"We went from being engineering grad students with little business sense to being entrepreneurs."

Visit EcoWatch’s RENEWABLES page for more related news on this topic.

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