Late last year, we reported that the Clean Energy Challenge offers $300,000 in prizes for cleantech innovations that are ready for commercialization now rather than in 10 years. Created by the Clean Energy Trust and supported by the US Department of Energy and various universities and utility companies, the competition is designed to champion Midwestern researchers, students and entrepreneurs who have transformative clean energy business ideas and concepts that could solve tomorrow’s energy issues before they become crises.
Four months later, the Clean Energy Trust has announced the 17 finalists that will compete for a chunk of the prize money in Chicago on April 4th. Independent evaluators selected eight companies from four states to compete for the $100,000 early-stage prize. Nine student finalists will vie for the $100,000 Student Challenge prize, and all competitors are eligible for the $50,000 McCaffery Interests commercialization award. Meet us after the jump to browse some of our favorite finalists.
EcoSpinners (Ohio) – A student-founded startup making electric bikes powered by a hybrid fuel cell electric energy source.
SkySpecs (University of Michigan) – Developing easy-to-use unmanned aerial vehicles for safe, low-cost infrastructure inspection.
LumenCache (Indiana) – replaces the old 110 Volt AC power distribution in buildings with a new standard that is more appropriate to the power needs and digital capabilities of LED lights
E-Cat (Indiana) – High performance electric bikes for law enforcement professionals.
MaterialMix (Missouri) – a software system that commoditizes the trade of reusable materials within the current waste collection industry.
“We expect great things from these new companies. Challenge finalists to date have raised more than $23 million in venture and other outside funding. They are creating jobs, launching pilot programs and commercializing their technology, which is the exact intent behind the competition,” said Amy Francetic, executive director of the Clean Energy Trust. “We congratulate the 2013 Challenge finalists for joining an impressive list of innovators who have made the Midwest a leader in clean energy technology.”