Insurance Policy for the Future: Investing in Millennials and Clean Energy

Posted by Amy Francetic

Apr 7, 2015 10:36:00 AM


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Topics: Clean Energy Challenge, Chicago Innovation, Entrepreneurship, Innovation, creativity, inspiration, leadership

What do Elon Musk & Frank Zappa Have in Common?

Posted by Jamie Redmond

Mar 31, 2015 1:15:54 PM

What drives the 2015 Clean Energy Challenge Finalists as inventors and competitors? We know there's more than caffeine fueling their long nights of testing theories, working through prototypes and calculating the next move.

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Topics: Clean Energy Challenge, Entrepreneurship, TEDtalks, Innovation, music, creativity, finalists, art, inspiration, leadership

Powered By Women: The New Tech Leaders

Posted by Jamie Redmond

Mar 17, 2015 1:34:00 PM

In honor of Women’s Awareness Month, Clean Energy Trust is taking this opportunity to recognize outstanding leaders who break gender barriers and inspire our passion for science, technology and innovation.

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Topics: Teaching ,, Clean Energy,, Values,, Clean Energy Challenge, business values,, cleantech, Women in STEM, Entrepreneurship

5 Ways Clean Tech is Changing How You Use Your iPhone

Posted by Jamie Redmond

Mar 12, 2015 2:48:00 PM




From charging your battery by dancing, to apps that regulate home energy usage and cut your carbon footprint, your personal device has become an instrument for sustainable living. These are 5 of our favorite innovations:

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Topics: Clean Energy,, Clean Energy Challenge, cleantech, Chicago Innovation, Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Apps, iPhone

3 TEDtalks to Watch: The Power of Innovation

Posted by Jamie Redmond

Mar 10, 2015 2:21:00 PM

As we gear up for this year’s Clean Energy Challenge, we look to those who lead the way in business, government and academia to promote innovative solutions. Take a break and enjoy these informative and inspiring TEDtalks:

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Topics: Teaching ,, Clean Energy,, Values,, Clean Energy Challenge, Chicago Innovation, TEDtalks, Innovation

Viewing Innovation From the Top of the ARPA-E Summit

Posted by Seyi Fabode

Mar 4, 2015 11:58:27 AM

Clean Energy Trust recently attended the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) Innovation Summit in Washington DC. The summit calls on academia, government and business to tackle advanced energy solutions through collaborative relationships. As active supporters of collaborative and innovative solutions for clean technology, we were excited to be a part of the action.

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Topics: Clean Energy,, Funding, Department of Energy, JCESR, startups, cleantech, energy storage, Entrepreneurship

Chicago Rallies Around Cleantech Women in the Shark Tank

Posted by Amy Francetic

Feb 25, 2015 5:23:26 PM

I recently had the great honor of celebrating the success of LuminAID, a Chicago-based cleantech company that produces solar-powered inflatable lights, on ABC’s “Shark Tank” with a packed room of friends and colleagues at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. We all cheered when one Shark after the other offered LuminAID founders Andrea Sreshta and Anna Stork deals to fund their growing company. In the end, all five Sharks made an offer and Andrea and Anne chose Mark Cuban, who had waited to strike once the other Sharks showed their cards. Andrea and Anna were able to secure more funding and gain exposure on this one-of-a-kind national stage, but the reason this event was special was due to the way the Chicago community rallied around the LuminAID founders.

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Topics: Clean Energy,, Clean Energy Challenge, startups, Women in STEM, Chicago Innovation, Entrepreneurship

5 Reasons Why Chicago Is the Place to watch for energy innovation

Posted by Jonathan Schwieger

Dec 19, 2014 7:50:08 AM

When it comes to battery technology innovation, Chicago is leading the charge. Indeed, two years ago the U.S. Department of Energy awarded a multi-partner team led by Argonne National Laboratory, located at Chicago’s doorstep, $120 million over 5 years for research into advanced battery systems – possibly the largest national effort yet focused on energy storage. The Joint Center for Energy Storage Research or JCESR (pronounced “J-Caeser), also know as “The Hub”, is solely focused on next generation battery technologies. The kind that will let you drive 400 miles on a single charge with a vehicle that will cost significantly less than EV models available today. While this initiative is emblematic of the transformations under way in the Chicagoland region, there is more to it than meets the eye. Along with the region’s dynamic innovation ecosystem, Chicago is poised to grow into the nation’s battery innovation powerhouse. And here are five reasons why:

1)     New Paradigm for Battery Research and Development

To achieve its ambitious goal of developing next-gen batteries with five times the performances for a fifth of the cost, JCESR is reinventing the scientific discovery process. Within this organizational framework managed out of Argonne, leading researchers across engineering and scientific disciplines collaborate in multifunctional teams to enable accelerated technology innovation at a large scale. The Hub has also partnered with domestic manufacturing giants to ensure the hand-off of successful prototypes for further scale-up. This integration of basic science, battery design, prototyping and manufacturing collaboration – akin to the Bell Labs research model – is not only critical for transformative innovation but unprecedented in battery research.

2)     Breakthrough Achievements

At the helm of JCESR, Argonne National Laboratory is an undisputed leader in battery innovation and research. In fact, the technology at the heart of the Chevy Volt, the first mass-produced plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, is based in part on breakthroughs pioneered by Argonne scientists. Furthermore, in just under two years the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research has broken new ground in pushing forward the boundaries of battery science. Based on a model previously developed at Argonne National Laboratory, the Battery Performance and Cost model (BatPac), researchers have launched a techno-economic analysis tool available to industry to predict system-level cost and performances of next-generation battery technologies. Piloted for lithium-air technology, the tool is currently being expanded to other chemistries. The Hub has also developed an early stage prototype of a magnesium-ion battery, the first fully functional battery based on this chemistry since 2000. Such a technology would provide 200% to 300% improvements in range for electric vehicles.

3)     Research and Entrepreneurial Strength

Chicago is a deep reservoir of innovation, science and engineering brainpower across the fields necessary for battery technology development and commercialization. With top-tier science and engineering curriculums at Northwestern University, the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) and the University of Chicago, as well as leading MBA programs at Booth School of Business and the Kellogg School of management, the region is spurring battery technology innovations at the materials, module and system levels. SiNode Systems, winner of the Rice Business Plan Competition and the Department of Energy’s National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition is emblematic of this convergence of resources. The company’s silicon-graphene composite material for advanced Li-ion batteries is a product of Argonne technology, Northwestern University students, and IIT incubation.

4)     Early Stage Funding

Early stage cleantech companies in the Midwest are constrained by a lack of seed funding, with only $1.8 million in average annual investment in Illinois cleantech startups over the past thirteen years (2001-2013). To compensate for this shortfall, organizations such as the Energy Foundry and Clean Energy Trust (CET) are awarding much-needed seed-stage capital to entrepreneurs developing clean energy innovations and particularly battery technologies. These high-growth businesses create new jobs and support the transition to less carbon-intensive energy sources. Through the Illinois Clean Energy Fund, CET and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity recently awarded $1,000,000 in early-stage funding – the largest single day award to cleantech companies in a public event in the country – with half going towards two Chicago-based battery startups.

5)     Access to the Midwest

Worth $500 billion and home to 28 Fortune 500 companies, the Chicagoland region alone is the nation’s third largest economy. Yet Chicago’s deep ties to the broader Midwestern region are vital in all aspects of its growth. The city’s proximity to the country’s pioneering automotive research and manufacturing competencies in Detroit guarantees access to fruitful collaboration for automotive-focused battery technologies. Up north in Milwaukee, Chicago companies leverage product development and supply chain expertise from Johnson Controls, largest global supplier of lead acid batteries and leading manufacturer of advanced battery types. Finally, in southern Illinois, emerging startups piloting grid-connected battery technologies benefit from access to a utility-sponsored smart-grid installation test-bed at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

In addition to regional resources, Chicago is also well positioned nationally. As adoption of batteries increases across many industries and applications, global shipping costs will rise and become prohibitive, thus favoring cost-effective local production. Chicago is strategically located within the Midwest and the country, at the center of railroad networks, to be a distribution hub for these technologies and meet both regional and national demand

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Topics: JCESR, cleantech, advanced batteries, energy storage

Creating A Pro-Growth Climate for Illinois Clean Energy Businesses

Posted by Amy Francetic

Nov 6, 2014 6:22:00 PM


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Portfolio Companies in the news

Posted by Emily Achler

Sep 15, 2014 9:05:15 AM

Once Clean Energy Challenge finalists become former participants, CET designates their company as a "portfolio company". We track these companies closely and provide consulting services throughout the year to promote growth. 

Many of our portfolio companies continue to acheive along the spectrum of business acheivements, but a few in particular have had great news to share in the last few months - Intelligent Generation LLC, 75F, GoElectric, and Navitas. 

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