Manufacturing Sustainability: Green Manufacturing News


posted by Wendy Stott
Published: March 09, 2011

At the Midwest Energy Forum, Governor Pat Quinn, Clean Energy Trust (CET), Invenergy Founder Michael Polsky and CET Executive Director Amy Francetic presented the first place $75,000 award in the inaugural Clean Energy Challenge business plan competition to Clean Urban Energy, a Chicago company that ‘turns buildings into batteries’ by optimizing the integration of commercial HVAC operations with the electric grid and energy markets.
NextGen Solar was awarded second place and $25,000 at the competition developed by CET to identify the most innovative clean energy ideas in Illinois.  NextGen Solar is commercializing a three-dimensional thin-film solar technology, invented by Richard Brotzman of Argonne National Lab.  The competition was held at the Midwest Energy Forum, an annual conference of the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and the Clean Energy Trust.
In addition to the $100,000 awards for company level plans, a $30,000 business concept award was presented to Thermal Conservation Technologies, which is producing a high-performance vacuum insulation panel invented by its CEO and University of Illinois at Chicago engineering professor, Alan Feinerman. The prize money will enable TCT to receive matching Small Business Innovation Research Funds.
Building on the momentum of this largest ever Midwest Energy Forum, Clean Energy Trust co-founder and wind developer Michael Polsky announced the creation of the Invenergy Prize, a $10,000 award for innovation in renewable energy.  Mr. Polsky and Governor Quinn presented the Invenergy prize to Lotus Creative Innovations for its scaled-down version of a commercial turbine designed for workforce and classroom training.
“Clean energy entrepreneurship is clearly thriving in Illinois,” said Amy Francetic, Clean Energy Trust executive director. “There is no shortage of early-stage technology ready for the right mix of minds and money to move it out of the laboratory and into the marketplace.  These winners are the very best of the new clean energy firms in this state, and we look forward to watching them grow into sustainable businesses.”
More than 70 early-stage companies in all aspects of clean energy submitted applications for the Challenge.  The most promising presented their plans to a distinguished panel of nationally renowned investors, corporation and entrepreneurs at yesterday’s Midwest Energy Forum in Chicago.  All of the Challenge finalists received mentoring and business planning assistance from the Clean Energy Trust, which accelerates the development of Midwest clean energy businesses by connecting entrepreneurs, researchers and early-stage companies with the expertise and capital to become sustainable.
Funding for The Clean Energy Challenge was provided by the U.S. Department of Energy, Acciona, Arcelor Mittal, City of Chicago Department of Environment, Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center, Google, Illinois Technology Association, Invenergy, Ungaretti and Harris, University of Chicago, University of Illinois, University of Illinois at Chicago, the Clean Energy Trust and the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship at Chicago Booth.
Additional supporting sponsors include Argonne National Laboratory, Illinois Institute of Technology, Northwestern University, Kauffman Foundation and TechAmerica.