Clean Energy Trust Maintains Commitment to Providing Critical Seed Capital to Cleantech Startups Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Investments in Renewance Inc. and Iris Light Technologies, Inc. Support Groundbreaking Midwest Innovation

CHICAGO, IL – May 6, 2020 – Clean Energy Trust announced their investments in two early-stage cleantech startups: Renewance Inc., a software platform and services for battery lifecycle management and stewardship, and Iris Light Technologies, Inc., a developer of silicon photonics technology.

Clean Energy Trust’s newest investments continue to demonstrate that investing in and supporting early-stage startups working on solutions for clean energy, decarbonization, and environmental sustainability help address climate challenges, create jobs, and generate attractive business and investment opportunities.

“It is critical that cleantech innovation continues unabated during these challenging times as climate change remains an existential risk,” said Erik Birkerts, Chief Executive Officer at Clean Energy Trust. “We have worked hard to maintain our catalytic investment activity and entrepreneurial support during the current crisis, and we are delighted to welcome Iris Light Technologies and Renewance to our portfolio of impactful, cleantech startups from the Mid-Continent region of the United States.”

Renewance Inc.
Renewance provides lifecycle management solutions to the battery energy storage and electric vehicle industries. Battery energy storage and electric vehicles will enable a more reliable, resilient grid with increased renewable integration and a more sustainable transportation ecosystem. Through their proprietary SaaS platform, Renewance Connect®, they provide clients with industrial batteries with the most cost-effective, environmentally friendly, and compliant reuse and recycling solutions.

“On behalf of Renewance, we look forward to working with the dedicated Clean Energy Trust team and their broad network as we scale our business. As the pace of expansion of batteries rapidly grows, the need for a responsible battery lifecycle management solution becomes increasingly important. We anticipate that the strategic, focused feedback and networking opportunities available through Clean Energy Trust will be a key driver as we become an industry leader in this sector,” said Dave Mauer, Vice President of Renewance.

Iris Light Technologies, Inc.
Iris Light Technologies on-chip laser technology addresses a critical need of data centers currently consuming 2% of global electricity. With 1000x growth in bandwidth by 2030 due to the demands of Artificial Intelligence (AI), 5G communications, and the Internet-of-Things, the Iris Light solution increases the bandwidth and energy-efficiency of light chips key to data center networks. Iris Light Technologies is currently participating in Chain Reaction Innovations, Argonne National Laboratory’s elite entrepreneurship program.

“When I founded Iris Light Technologies, I imagined a world where light chips revolutionized our daily lives much like electronic chips have endowed us with ubiquitous computing power, smartphones, and the Cloud,” said Chad Husko, Founder/CEO of Iris Light Technologies. “We’re excited to join Clean Energy Trust’s portfolio to scale and fundamentally change the future of silicon photonics, unlocking global access to data bandwidth, and boosting energy efficiency as we drive towards new modes of 21st-century connectivity.”

Chad and Jeff working in the lab at the Center for Nanoscale Materials at Argonne National Lab (Image courtesy of Argonne National Lab)

The investment in Renewance was made from the Illinois Clean Energy Innovation Fund. As part of the support Clean Energy Trust offers their portfolio, they will also provide both companies with access to resources and programs that have helped current portfolio companies raise more than $140 million of follow-on funding. Since 2014, Clean Energy Trust has invested in 33 companies in states located across the Mid-Continental region of the United States.

“As a longtime investor in clean technologies, I value serving on Clean Energy Trust’s Investment Committee, helping to oversee their investment process,” said Rob Day, General Partner at Spring Lane Capital. “Clean Energy Trust’s high impact investments and support are vital, perhaps now more than ever, to bridge the funding gap between research labs and universities and traditional sources of high-risk financing.”

About Clean Energy Trust
Clean Energy Trust provides catalytic capital and support to early-stage startups in the Mid-Continent region of the United States working on solutions for clean energy, decarbonization, and environmental sustainability. Based in Chicago, Clean Energy Trust invests in and provides hands-on support to help environmentally sustainable entrepreneurs scale and succeed. To date, Clean Energy Trust has helped its 33 portfolio companies raise $26 of additional investment for every $1 Clean Energy Trust has invested. Clean Energy Trust’s portfolio currently employs over 500 people. Learn more at 

About the Illinois Clean Energy Innovation Fund
The Illinois Clean Energy Innovation Fund is administered by Clean Energy Trust and makes direct investments in high-potential, early-stage, Illinois-based cleantech companies to support innovative entrepreneurship and create jobs in the cleantech sector in Illinois. The Illinois Clean Energy Innovation Fund was seeded by grant funds from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and is overseen by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. Learn more at


Contact Information

Clean Energy Trust
Amy Yanow Fairbanks


Read more of our news and perspectives on Medium

By Amy Yanow Fairbanks | May 6, 2020