Chicago Cleantech Startups Fight It Out

Can Chicago become a cleantech capital? The Clean Energy Trust thinks so, if the area’s enormous intellectual resources – in the form of great universities, corporate powerhouses and research facilities such as the Argonne National Laboratory – can be funneled toward commercial ventures. One tool the organization is using to goose that process is a competition, the Clean Energy Challenge, which will hand out $100,000 to an early-stage business and $30,000 to a company in the concept stage.

We told you in October about this competition getting stared, and more than 70 cleantech innovators answered the call to apply. Now the trust has named 10 finalists for the early-stage funding award and five others for the concept-stage prize. Three of the early-stage companies are in the smart-grid sector, three in solar, two in energy efficiency and one each in biofuels and energy IT. The concept-stage finalists consist of two in the solar category, and one each in wind power, building technology and energy efficiency.

Clean Energy Challenge, Chicago, Clean Energy Trust

image via Clean Energy Trust

“The Clean Energy Challenge is about connecting the most innovative clean energy ideas with the business and finance experts who know how to develop new technology for commercial deployment,” said Amy Francetic, executive director of the trust. “This competition shook the bushes to find the best ideas and early-stage companies and we’re very pleased with the extraordinary people and concepts we’ve found.”

The trust said it will now help the finalists get ready to present their business plans to an “all-star panel of judges, including venture capitalists, corporate investors and business leaders,” at the Midwest Energy Forum in early March. As for the finalists and who they are, look below or check here.

Early-stage business finalists

Company Location Category
Agentis Energy Elmhurst Smart Grid
Clean Urban Energy Chicago Smart Grid
Energy Recovery Technologies Evanston Energy Efficiency
General Biomass Company Chicago Biofuels
Intelligent Generation Chicago Smart Grid
NextGen Solar Chicago Solar
Power2Switch Chicago Energy IT
PV Power Chicago Solar
Root3 Technologies Chicago Energy Efficiency
Sol Xorce Northbrook Solar

Concept-level finalists

Company Location Category
Lotus Creative Innovations Compton Wind
Orbeon Technologies Chicago Building Technology
Sun Phocus Chicago Solar
S2E Solar Evanston Solar
Thermal Conservation Technologies Chicago Energy Efficiency

Sports columnist, newspaper desk guy, website managing editor, wine-industry PR specialist, freelance writer—Pete Danko’s career in media has covered a lot of terrain. The constant along the way has been a fierce dedication to knowing the story and getting it right. Danko's work has appeared in Wired, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.