College Campuses Are Leading On Energy

Four programs and universities leading the growth of cleantech innovation on campuses.

University campuses have always been centers of innovation and technology development. It is especially important for the cleantech industry that is so focused on cutting edge technologies. At Clean Energy Trust we work hard to make cleantech entrepreneurs successful, and working closely with the most innovative universities is key to that.

Here are 4 programs and universities leading the growth of cleantech innovation on campuses.

Campus Cleantech Pilots

In June CET and Second Nature announced a partnership with 12 colleges and universities to facilitate pilot programs on their campuses. Entrepreneurs will work with universities to install pilot programs on campus, giving the startups the necessary validation they often need to make the next leap in business development. Universities are uniquely positioned to be able to host these pilot programs due to their very visible facilities and technological resources. The universities also benefit from the environmental effects of the cleantech pilot project.

Cleantech UP

Started in 2011 and originally called the Energy Department’s National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition (NCEBPC), the Cleantech University Prize (CUP) provides funding for student cleantech entrepreneurs. Since 2011, the CUP program expanded student engagement in clean energy technologies and attracted more than 1,000 teams, resulting in more than 200 startups incorporated, 120 jobs, and $120 million in follow-on funding.

Clean Energy Trust is proud to host one of the eight regional collegiate competitions. Applications for this year’s competition opened up Wednesday, September 28, 2016. To learn more and apply please visit

Institute for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern (ISEN) And NUVention: Energy

To be able constantly have exceptional student candidates for the prizes, top universities like Northwestern put together specific programing to support and encourage cleantech entrepreneurship. At ISEN, Northwestern students use an interdisciplinary approach to discover sustainable solutions to the world’s greatest challenges.

Echoing the interdisciplinary focus at ISEN, in the NUvention: Energy course, students form teams to solve clean energy challenges.

“Students from engineering, business, arts and sciences, law and other graduate schools across campus come together in interdisciplinary teams to develop a product or service, and a business plan, in the sustainable energy or clean tech industry. The objective of the course is to provide students with a realistic simulation of the challenges and opportunities entrepreneurial founding teams face trying to create a business around technologies or services that both meet a market need and have a positive environmental impact.

Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) MicroGrid Project

At the Galvin Center for Electricity Innovation, IIT is working to pursue “groundbreaking work in the generation, transmission, distribution, management and consumption of electricity.”

“The Galvin Center’s premier project is the development of the nation’s first Perfect Power microgrid at IIT. The $14 million project has equipped IIT’s microgrid with a high-reliability distribution system for enhancing reliability, new sustainable energy sources (roof-top solar panels, wind generation units, flow batteries and charging stations for electric vehicles), and smart building automation technology (building controllers, Zigbee sensors, controllable loads) for energy efficiency and demand response.” –

Recently, ComEd has announced that it will incorporate this microgrid in it’s vision for the first “community of the future” in Bronzeville, here in Chicago. This would be one of the microgrids amongst other clusters that would provide critical infrastructure in case of emergency.

By Alex Foucault | September 30, 2016