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$1 Million MidWest Clean Energy Challenge Accepting Applicants

The Clean Energy Challenge is accepting applications through January 13, 2015, for its 2015 event, a competition for Midwestern startups to win a substantial amount of funding in a wide range of clean energy categories. The challenge is managed by Clean Energy Trust, an organization based in Chicago. The amount of money the trust will invest in 2015 in clean energy startups is $1 million. In 2010, it invested $100,000; the annual award total has increased greatly in just five years.


Participants in the clean energy challenge will make pitches in April of 2015 to present their ideas and have them evaluated. The best ideas will be selected as winners and receive funding to help implement them.

The 2015 categories are:

·         Pritzker Foundation Prize ($100,000) – Awarded to a startup based in Chicagoland from the Student, Early Stage or Emerging Growth categories.

·         Wells Fargo Prize ($100,000) – Awarded to an Early Stage startup from the Midwest region;

·         U.S. Department of Energy Student Prize ($75,000) – Awarded to a startup from the Student track. The winning team will also advance to the National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition held in June in Washington, D.C.

·         Boeing, United and UOP Honeywell Advanced Biofuels Prize ($50,000) – Awarded to a startup from any of the three tracks. The winning business must be related to the advanced biofuels sector.

·         McCaffrey Building Efficiency Prize ($25,000) – Awarded to a startup from any of the three tracks. The winning business must have an application to large-scale building and urban energy efficiency standards.

·         Hanley Family Foundation Prize ($25,000) – Awarded to a startup from any of the three tracks. The winning business must have a focus on helping encourage sustainable practices in everyday life.

·         ComEd Female CEO Prize ($20,000) – Awarded to a woman-led startup from any of the three tracks. This prize underscores ComEd and Clean Energy Trust’s commitment to gender equality in the Energy and STEM fields.

·         Emerging Growth Awards ($100,000–$500,000) – Illinois-based companies in the Emerging Growth track will be eligible for awards from the Illinois Clean Energy Fund sponsored by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Emerging Growth companies based outside of Illinois will be eligible for awards from the Clean Energy Trust Fund.

Up to $1 million of remaining funds will be disbursed on a discretionary basis.

In 2014, $1 million was also awarded to clean energy startups in the same area.

Image Credit: Clean Energy Trust

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