Chicago Fosters Global Connections in Cleantech Innovation

A global exchange fellowship brings Slovenian energy media director to Chicago. Her impression: The cleantech energy climate here is literally brimming with business opportunities.

We’re excited to introduce Alenka Žumbar Klopčič, who is working with the Clean Energy Trust in May as a part of the World Chicago Tech Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Education Fellowship Program. She is Director and Editor-in-Chief of Energetika.NET, the leading energy media source for South-Eastern Europe.

Take a moment to read, in her own words, about her experience and the impression Chicago’s growing clean energy ecosystem has made on her since she arrived:

Creating methanol using atmospheric carbon dioxide, water and sunlight as inputs. Developing a process of injecting fuel into jet engines by using plasma, thus increasing safety while decreasing fuel consumption. Converting the energy from spent nuclear waste into usable electricity. Building a “Power-over-Ethernet” lighting, sensor, and data platform that results in 80% in installation savings and 60% in energy savings. Producing profitable jet fuels and diesel from non-food biomass feedstocks. Creating methanol using atmospheric carbon dioxide, water and sunlight as inputs.

These are just some of the projects that the Clean Energy Trust has recognised as the most promising in bringing our society towards a cleaner energy future. If that doesn’t sound exciting to you, the deeper story behind it might. The story is really about people standing behind these projects – all young entrepreneurs, becoming clean energy start-ups.

In all this, what’s most interesting for me to see as someone coming from Europe (Slovenia), is the way the business environment and media present the benefits of these new trends brought by the Cleantech energy industry. Specifically, this is communicated in terms of new jobs and growing employment. In my country, and in the South-Eastern European region, we are not hearing such messages at all when talking about renewables.

Also, having in mind some of the start-ups in the 1871 – the world’s biggest start-up incubator that I had a chance to visit during my stay here in Chicago – Cleantech is truly an exciting area to be in right now, and in this place. The Cleantech energy climate here is literally brimming with business opportunities – as also admitted by the Deputy Mayor of the City of Chicago, Steve Koch, at the Cleantech Innovation Bridge.

More exciting times are yet to come; according to the Clean Energy Trust report, the number of jobs in the clean energy sector in the state of Illinois alone is projected to grow by another 7,860 in the coming year. I wonder what these figures are for Slovenia and the South-Eastern European region.”

We are looking forward to learning from each other, and we’re proud of the positive reflection on Chicago’s devotion to fostering cleantech growth and clean energy startups. Let’s continue to build these partnerships and grow into our role as a global leader in innovation.

By Emily Achler | May 21, 2015