Clean Energy Trust announces $970,000 in seed investments
benefiting Midwest cleantech startups at Co_Invest Cleantech event

Over 300 entrepreneurs, investors, executives, and students gathered in Chicago for a day that celebrated a shared belief in the power of entrepreneurs to take on the hardest challenges of decarbonization and environmental sustainability.

Clean Energy Trust, a nonprofit cleantech seed investor, announced a new round of early-stage investments totaling $970,000 at their startup demo day event, Co_Invest Cleantech. Over 300 entrepreneurs, investors, executives, and students gathered in Chicago for a day that celebrated a shared belief in the power of entrepreneurs to take on the hardest challenges of decarbonization and environmental sustainability.

“Clean Energy Trust helps ensure that clean energy entrepreneurs and technologies have a path for growth and success here in the Midwest” reflected Clean Energy Trust’s CEO, Erik Birkerts. “We provide critical early-stage funding and strategic support which allows these impactful technologies to scale. As these early startups grow and deploy their technology, not only are carbon emissions cut and resources conserved, but the economy is stimulated, and jobs are created.”

Clean Energy Trust believes that investment in cleantech entrepreneurs is crucial and necessary to reduce the effects of climate change and revitalize the regional economy. Since Clean Energy Trust first began investing in cleantech startups in 2014, its has invested in 27 companies from 11 Midwestern states and these companies have raised an additional $65 million in follow on funding after Clean Energy Trust’s initial investment.

Clean Energy Trust announced investments in four new companies who will join the organization’s investment portfolio.

75F (Burnsville, MN) – $270,000

$20,000 of this investment reflects the CET People’s Choice Award

The 75F building automation technology affords small and medium-sized buildings unprecedented access to sophisticated building controls. By pairing operational efficiency with occupant experience, the IoT network-enabled solution has demonstrated long-term energy savings of 30-50%. Along with a focus on creating healthy, comfortable environments for occupants, this Minnesota-based company wants to make every environment an opportunity to support human wellness.

Mobius (Knoxville, TN) – $100,000

Mobius is creating the first usable, entirely bio-based biodegradable plastic. By overcoming a prohibitive technical barrier with support from Oak Ridge National Lab, this high-performance, low-cost plastic replacement material holds enormous potential. The first product for production will be a mulch-film targeted for strawberry, melon, and tomato crops. Their biodegradable solution has the potential to save tons of plastic from winding up in landfills and oceans.

Sigora International (Chicago, IL) – $200,000

Sigora International provides utility-management systems for the 1.3 billion people in frontier markets without a grid connection. Using a smart meter custom-built for emerging markets, web-managed software, and simple payment solutions, the Sigora platform streamlines bill collection, reduces revenue losses, and deters energy theft. Sigora is the “operating system” for micro-utility business models.

Wellntel (Milwaukee, WI) – $150,000

$20,000 of this investment reflects the ComEd Female Founder Award

Groundwater is a critical, but poorly-understood and under-measured resource. Wellntel is a water technology company igniting a groundwater revolution. Wellntel combines patented, next-generation acoustic measurement technology, remote telemetry, and a cloud platform to collect first-of-its-kind groundwater-level measurements from a wide range of private, residential, and commercial wells. The collected data can be used by local and state governments and water-intensive industry to make smarter business and development decisions.

Clean Energy Trust also made a $250,000 follow-on funding investment into an existing portfolio company, NuMat Technologies. This investment, along with the investment in Sigora International, referenced above, was made out of Clean Energy Trust’s Illinois Clean Energy Innovation Fund, an investment vehicle funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s State Energy Program, through the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

Chad Kruse, Energy Manager of Illinois EPA noted, “Clean Energy Trust’s Illinois Clean Energy Innovation Fund provides critical funding for early-stage companies which are developing innovative products and services for the country and the world while creating jobs here in Illinois.  Illinois EPA is pleased to support the Fund and excited by the results that the Fund has already enjoyed.”

As of today, Clean Energy Trust has invested $4.75 million in 27 innovative cleantech startups from the Midwest.

  • 41% of these companies received their first investments from Clean Energy Trust
  • 37% of these companies are based on intellectual property developed at our Universities
  • 74% of these companies are already generating revenues
  • 63% of these companies have female or minority founders

Clean Energy Trust’s funding programs have served as a launching pad for Midwestern cleantech startups since 2011. Today’s funding announcement represents the culmination of a new investment process and the final step in transitioning from an annual business plan competition to a seed fund. The four new companies that will join the current investment portfolio of 23 were selected from over one-hundred applications through a rigorous due diligence process.

The event brought the best and brightest thinkers and doers in clean energy to Chicago including keynote speakers Ryan Popple, CEO of Proterra Inc, the country’s leading manufacturer of electric buses, and Governor Jennifer Granholm, the former two-term governor of the State of Michigan.

The startup pitches, keynote speakers, and attendee discussion all reflected the importance of entrepreneurship in combating the effects of climate change, revitalizing economic opportunity, and enabling both high-impact and attractive financial returns.  

About Clean Energy Trust:

Clean Energy Trust funds and grows early-stage clean energy startups in the Midwest through direct investment and venture development.  Since Clean Energy Trust first began investing in funding cleantech startups in 2014, its has invested in 27 companies from 11 Midwestern states and these companies have raised an additional $65 million in follow on funding after Clean Energy Trust’s initial investment.

 

By Emily Achler | May 24, 2018