One million dollars was awarded recently to four cleantech startups in Chicago by the Illinois Clean Energy Fund.
1) Intellihot Green Technologies received $400,000
2) SiNode Systems received $300,000
3) AllCell Technologies received $200,000
4) Agentis Energy received $100,000.
Amy Francetic, the CEO of Clean Energy Trust generously answered some questions about the competition.
1. How did you narrow the field to four contestants?
We had a panel of twelve expert judges evaluate all of the applicant companies based on a consistent set of criteria, including industry attractiveness, value proposition, competitive advantage, and strength of team. The judges also determined the winning investment amounts for the top four startups based on the company pitches and a Q&A with the entrepreneurs at the event.
1. John Banta, Executive Director – Blue Cross Blue Shield Venture Partners, L.P.
2. Nicolas Chery, Associate – Principal Energy Investments at J.P. Morgan
3. John DiNardi, Vice President – Brand Management at Norlux – Division of Hubbell Lighting
4. Jessica Droste Yagan, CEO – Impact Engine
5. Jennifer Garson, Tech to Market Analyst, Commercialization Program, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy – U.S. Department of Energy
6. Bob Greenlee, Senior Advisor – Illinois Science & Technology Coalition
7. Tom Kappel, Director of Strategy – Danfoss Power Electronics
8. Nathan Laurell, Founder & CEO – New Frontier Holdings
9. Armando Pauker, General Partner – Apex Venture Partners
10. Richard Robertson, Senior Director – P&W at GE Ventures
11. Michael Rutkowski, Managing Director – Navigant Consulting
12. David Weinstein, Founder & Managing Partner – Freshwater Advisors
2. How many applicants did you have in the largest pool?
3. What impact does the competition hope to have on the local Chicago community?
The Illinois Clean Energy Fund combines state and private sector investments to help clean-energy startups create new jobs while leading Illinois toward a more sustainable future. Clean Energy Trust companies have turned $1.2 million in seed funding into $46 million, and the Illinois Clean Energy Fund will allow us to build on this track record of success. Two of the Illinois Clean Energy Fund winners, Agentis and SiNode, were previously Clean Energy Challenge participants that are growing their businesses. This shows how new sources of capital have a tremendous impact in accelerating the growth of the clean energy ecosystem.
4. Could a contestant also have a non-profit idea for serving the community?
The purpose of the Illinois Clean Energy Fund is to help fill the gap in seed funding for clean energy startups, so the fund is targeted at for-profit companies that are commercializing new technologies or bringing products or services to market.
5. Are most of the applicants younger business people?
The entrepreneurs that applied for the Illinois Clean Energy Fund represented a great mix of both young founders and seasoned industry veterans. One of the winning entrepreneurs, Samir Mayekar of SiNode Systems, recently graduated from business school at Northwestern.
6. What are the most pressing green problems that need to be addressed by the business community in Chicago?
More seed funding for clean energy startups is a critical need in the market, which is what led the Illinois DCEO and Clean Energy Trust to partner together and create the Illinois Clean Energy Fund. The $1 million in total investment awarded to cleantech companies at a pitch event is the largest amount we believe has been given out by any NGO.
7. Do you anticipate this competition will be held again, and repeatedly for some time?
Illinois Clean Energy Fund investments will be awarded at least twice a year, including at our annual flagship event in the spring, the Clean Energy Challenge. Returns to the fund will be recycled back into the market through future investments, so the Illinois Clean Energy Fund will continue to have a positive impact on clean energy startups.
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