Announcing the 2018 finalists for $50,000 Cleantech University Prize award

On February 8th, Clean Energy Trust will showcase eight of the most innovative and promising university-based cleantech companies in the Midwest for a chance to win $50,000.

Clean Energy Trust is proud to announce eight of the most innovative and promising student-led cleantech companies in the Midwest as finalists for the Cleantech University Prize (UP), sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Over the next four weeks, these student startups will be matched with expert mentors from CET’s cultivated network and work with CET staff to refine their business models and pitch. The final pitch showcase will be held on February 8th at mHUB and will be free and open to the public.

Switched On: Student Innovations in Cleantech will give attendees a glimpse into the early stages of research commercilization and science entrepreneurship, the opportunity to learn more about how our Midwestern universities are supporting student companies, and a chance for high level networking with our university and civic partners.

The winner of the Midwest Cleantech University Prize will be determined by a panel of expert cleantech industry judges. The winner will receive a $50,000 grant and the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place finishers will go on to present the national Cleantech UP competition.

Click here for tickets to the February 8th Cleantech UP showcase

Congratulations to these 8 innovative university teams who have been selected to compete!

University of Minnesota | Smart Grid 

Aelios Technology’s mission is to be a catalyst for change in developing economies. Their products will help save lives, increase efficiency and raise the standard of living in region where basic sustainable power is a challenge. Through their Intelligent Switch Devices, they help hospitals solve the problem of losing critical devices at critical times.


Northwestern University | Solar 

Aerospec provides a turnkey solution using drone technology and big data analytics to efficiently manage solar and wind assets. The proprietary analytics platform can process drone data and pinpoint issues within minutes versus hours or days compare to solutions available today.

University of Chicago | Energy Storage 

Advances in how we store electrical energy have the potential to transform nearly every aspect of society; from transportation to communication to electricity delivery all the way to domestic security. Beltech is developing a new lithium-ion battery technology that reduces battery costs by up to 50%, increases battery energy density up to 3x and is inherently safe (no leakage unlike existing batteries). What this means is an electric vehicle that can drive up to 1000 miles in one charge, go 3 days without charging your phone, or allowing mass scale storage of solar and wind renewable energy.

Case Western Reserve University | Wind 

Boundary Labs is a startup spun out of research conducted at Case Western Reserve university in Cleveland, Ohio. They are looking to utilize dielectric barrier discharge plasma actuator technology to reduce aerodynamic drag over wind turbine blades. The goal is to make wind a more affordable and reliable source of renewable energy.

Washington University in St. Louis | Smart Grid  

CyberPowered Home has developed a smart breaker box, a key enabling technology at the intersection of the smart home and the smart grid. This technology benefits both homeowners and utilities by automatically sensing, interpreting, and acting on electrical use information. Participating homeowners can save an estimated 25 percent on energy bills. Simultaneously, utility companies can benefit from demand smoothing, demand prediction, and demand event response services to better manage an increasingly complex electric grid.


Iowa State University | Smart Grid  

Open Energy provides a software platform to optimize distributed energy technology while tailoring to each clients’ energy storage and generation needs. Using aggregated data, Open Energy builds models to help their clients forecast energy prices with confidence. Their smart meter hardware allows them the capability to provide secure real-time analytics to assist in actionable energy planning.


University of Kentucky| Biofuels 

Starch is an essential raw feedstock for the production of bioplastics, textiles, biofuels, and much more. In order for starch to be useful as a raw feedstock, it must be processed down to simple sugars (i.e. glucose). OptiMol Enzymes has discovered an innovative process that harnesses the natural capabilities of plant enzymes to process starch. OptiMol Enzymes aims to enhance the utilization of starch as an industrial feedstock by accelerating the processing of starch while reducing the costs of energy and waste-reduction strategies current companies use. Their enzymes will make production more efficient, cheaper, and more environmentally friendly.

University of Chicago| Pollution Control 

In India, over a million people die annually due to air pollution, which is in large part due to the lack of reliable information in a country with high levels of hazardous pollutants. Pavan presents a solution to this problem. Unlike existing apps created by other startups and government agencies, our user-friendly information platform, which includes an app, a website, and text blasts, helps urban Indians monitor pollution using real-time, easy-to-understand data.


By Emily Achler | January 12, 2018