Midwest Cleantech Competition Opening Up

The second annual Clean Energy Challenge is to take place in Chicago on March 1, 2012, and the Clean Energy Trust (CET) will start accepting applications on the first of November. The Challenge is a place for early-stage businesses and students from the Midwest to compete for cash prizes. The companies and student business ideas with the most potential for success in the clean energy sector will receive over $200,000.

Participants at the Challenge present their ideas to a panel of judges that includes venture capitalists, corporations and other business leaders at the all-day event in March. Winners not only receive money, but also mentoring from the Clean Energy Trust Advisors on business practices such as investing, manufacturing and utilities.

Image via Clean Energy Trust

The first competition, held earlier this year, saw the application of 70 clean energy companies from the state of Illinois.  The winnings of the four top-placing companies, Clean Urban Energy, NextGen Solar, Thermal Conservation Technologies and Lotus Creative Innovations, totaled $140,000. This year, companies from all over the Midwest–Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin–will also be invited to compete.

CET executive director Amy Francetic explained that the first Challenge “helped accelerate development of these Illinois-based businesses,” and that this year, the scope of the Challenge is expanding to include businesses and business plans from all over the Midwest. The Challenge provides valuable opportunity for these companies and concepts. “Some of those first winners have gone on to receive venture funding and are further developing their innovations,” she said. So if you’re in the Midwest and you have a clean energy business or business idea, you can apply online from November 1 through December 5.

Laura Caseley is a graduate of SUNY New Paltz and a resident of New York State’s Hudson Valley. She writes for several publications and when she’s not writing, she can usually be found painting in her makeshift studio or enjoying the scenery of her hometown.