Clean Energy Trust Challenge 2016

Entries Open
September 15 – January 12
Evaluation Period
January 13 – February 15
Finalists Announced
February 16
Winners Announced
April 12
Entries Closed
View Important Dates

Winners Announced

We're pleased to present the winners of the 2016 Clean Energy Trust Challenge!

Winners will be announced soon.

All Finalists


Cleveland, OH | Internet of Things/Smart Cities

CrystalE empowers building energy management system integrators to provide a self powered, hassle-free system to their customers, primarily small to medium sized building owners. Today's battery-powered sensors have to be replaced annually in order to properly administer current energy management systems, indicating a need for retrofitted solutions to overcome this issue for building owners. CrystalE's piezoelectric, low power sensor nodes can be retrofitted on surfaces with small amounts of vibration that harvest energy and power the sensor, eliminating the need for and cost of batteries.

Hazel Technologies

Evanston, IL | Efficiency Technologies

Hazel Technologies makes FruitBrite, a drop-in product for produce retailers and distributors that can extend the shelf life of fruits, vegetables, flowers, and plants by 2-4x. Produce retailers and distributors lose money when produce spoils, and lose customers when they can’t guarantee the shelf life of their produce. When placed in the produce storage space, the FruitBrite pod gradually releases small amounts of an EPA-approved active ingredient that stops the produce aging process and extends shelf life through an ethylene inhibitor delivery system.

INjoo Networks

Evanston, IL | Internet of things/Smart Cities

INjoo Networks is an artificial intelligence powered, energy management software designed for real estate investment trusts. INjoo solves the energy waste problem of empty rooms by optimizing building resources without the need for installing additional hardware or sensors. INjoo’s software collects data from various networks already installed in the building and leverages that data to detect building occupancy and more efficiently heat and cool empty rooms.


Madison, WI | Microgrids/Smart Grids

NovoMoto is a social enterprise that aims to empower communities in Sub-Saharan Africa by providing renewable, sustainable electricity with its MicroPlant technology, particularly targeting the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In Congo today, 59 million people live without access to reliable grid electricity, using Kerosene to meet their lighting needs, which is an expensive lighting source for these communities and poses significant health and environmental risks. NovoMoto provides an affordable alternative to kerosene by incorporating solar power technology, control and monitoring software, and local partners to deliver reliable electricity to Congolese homes.

10x Technology

Libertyville, IL | Efficiency Technologies

10x Technology is developing and manufacturing micro-structured materials offering ecological and economic sustainability for high-value applications, such as increasing the efficiency in lighting buildings and enhancing the sustainability in delivery drugs. The micro-structures that 10x Technology creates are applied directly to the surface, say glass or a plane wing, and changes how the surface interacts with the medium around it. Light from windows, for example, can be directed upwards to the ceiling, lighting up the whole room

AMF Nano Corporation

Ann Arbor, MI | Internet of Things/Smart Cities

AMF-Nano supplies environmental monitoring and control solutions for specialty applications. AMF Nano fits proprietary wireless sensors to the outside of tanks in order to measure the level of its liquid/solid materials in real time, eliminating the installation cost and need for tank modification. Lack of access to real time tank level information results in significant inefficiencies across the oil and gas, waste, and agriculture industries, but AMF-Nano's advanced technology enables real time measurements that can be easily presented through various communication networks.

Current Motors

Ann Arbor, MI | Advanced Transportation

Current Motor makes a patent-pending NanoGrid platform that enables a variety of off-grid, mobile, solar solutions, providing power to virtually anything, anywhere. This Nanogrid platform addresses a variety of vertical solutions such as EV mobility, clean water, emergency responders, and for the mining, manufacturing, and military industries. Current Motor's go-to-market EV Mobility solution, packages electric cargo motorcycles inside a containerized solar Nanogrid equipped with onboard battery storage, offering an energy-independent, Mini-Fleet-in-a-Box.


Indianapolis, IN | Efficiency Technologies

DATTUS helps industrial facilities compete in the rapidly evolving industrial environment through platform solutions that enable data-driven decision-making and provide a seamless path for industries to advance their operations. DATTUS’ IoT platform monitors industrial machines for performance, efficiency, and reliability in real-time. DATTUS’ hardware gathers data on a wide range of parameters (e.g. temperature, vibration, cycle counts) and DATTUS’ software translates this data into actionable insights through packaged analytics algorithms. This allows a factory, for example, to know which machines need to be replaced before they break.


Burr Ridge, IL | Advanced Transportation

Innova EV has developed the DASH electric vehicle to address the growing demand for environmentally responsible, first mile/last mile transportation in urban and university settings. Innova also works to connect the electric vehicle to the cloud/app environment which can provide autonomous, on-demand and shared mobility for college students. We have also developed the IP to sponsor student rides thru our personalized digital and video ad platform.

Nexmatix, LLC

St. Louis, MO | Efficiency Technologies

Nexmatix has developed a platform of products that makes pneumatics more efficient, including directional control valves used for actuation systems and air leak detection products that can recycle compressed air in non-actuated systems. Nexmatix is changing the industrial automation industry with an intelligent, energy efficient pneumatic platform that significantly reduces electricity costs for manufacturers. Pneumatic systems, used by 70% of manufacturers, have an efficiency of less than 20%, while Nexmatix reduces compressed air by an average of 20-40% through its patented line of smart directional control valves.

Renewance Inc.

Chicago, IL | Energy Storage

Renewance Inc. is a technology company that provides a software as service platform for one-stop-shop cradle-to-grave stewardship of industrial batteries. As the market grows, the energy storage industry faces stewardship challenges managing the growing number of industrial batteries throughout the lifecycle. Renewance creates a platform where companies are guided and aided through the maze of regulatory procedures that come with maintaining and then recycling large industrial batteries.


Chicago, IL | Efficiency Technologies

SonicLQ uses sound waves to detect and measure air leaks in buildings in order to improve the exterior envelopes of buildings. Most buildings/houses have too many air leaks, causing owners to spend 10%-30% more than is needed to heat/cool their interiors. Air leak testing firms are limited by current solutions in the amount of energy cost savings that they can find for owners. By using sound waves to detect and measure the size of leaks, firms can find those leaks throughout the entire lifecycle of the building and can also prioritize which leaks will be most cost effective to fix.


Detroit, MI | Advanced Transportation

SPLT is an enterprise-first ridesharing platform that connects employees within organizations to share their commute. SPLT enables commuters with common travel plans to meet someone new within their organization, save money and reduce traffic congestion and CO2 emissions. This provides companies with a way to introduce an employee perk while building a company culture through shared experiences

ThermoLift, Inc.

Ann Arbor, MI | Efficiency Technology

ThermoLift is developing a novel natural gas driven air conditioner and heat pump technology (V-Cycle™), to replace residential and commercial heating, cooling, and hot water systems with a single appliance. The operational energy and cost savings as well as other features such as climate performance, fuel agnostic capability, elimination of refrigerants, small size, and natural gas cooling, offer a significant advantage over current state-of-the-art equipment.

The Challenge

The Clean Energy Trust Challenge is a nationally recognized accelerator program and the largest single-day clean energy pitch competition in the nation. The Challenge has jumpstarted more than 80 startups in the Midwest to date, including: LuminAID, a then-student company who after winning $100,000 at the Challenge went on to become a Shark Tank Season 6 success story; Detroit’s GreenLancer, who has since gone on to raise $5 million in Series B funding; Chicago’s AMPY, who after winning at the Challenge launched a national Kickstarter campaign which raised $309,000 and was featured in Forbes Magazine, the Today Show, CBS This Morning, Fast Company, CNET and others.

The Event

The Clean Energy Challenge event is the premiere cleantech networking event in Chicago. Over 400 entrepreneurs, investors, business executives, students, and university faculty attend each year. The event combines a business plan competition with presentations by leading clean energy thinkers and doers. Last year’s event featured keynote addresses by investor Nancy Pfund of DBL Investors, solar pioneer Jigar Shah, and GE CTO, Mark Little. Additional past speakers include Tom Steyer, NRG’s David Crane, and Governor Bruce Rauner.

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The Challenge is a nationally recognized accelerator program and the largest single-day clean energy pitch competition in the nation.


Department of Energy
Wells Fargo
Hanley Family Foundation
Pritzker Foundation
State of Illinois
AGL Resources / Nicor
American Electric Power
Archer Daniels Midland
Energy Foundation
Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation
The Joyce Foundation
Schneider Electric
Solar City
True North Venture Partners
Argonne National Laboratory
Hubbell Lighting
Northwestern University
Peoples Gas
Purdue Foundation
University of Chicago
West Monroe Partners
Advanced Energy Economy
ARCH Venture Partners
Avison Young
Baker & McKenzie
Baxter International
Coalition: Energy
Hitachi Chemical
MidAmerican Energy
Mintz Levin
Plante Moran
S&C Electric
Case Western Reserve University
Freshwater Advisors
Gas Technology Institute
Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP
Environment & Energy Publishing
Green Building & Design
Midwest Energy News
MI Tech News
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