501vc™ Investment Program

Clean Energy Trust is currently evaluating the applications to the 2018 501vc™ Investment Program. This marks the fourth year in a row Clean Energy Trust is committed to investing a total of $1M to high-potential cleantech startups based in the Midwest.

Entrepreneurs and researchers were invited to submit their cleantech startups for the opportunity to join Clean Energy Trust’s growing investment portfolio. The 2018 investments and the new cohort of Clean Energy Trust Portfolio Companies will be announced at the Co_Invest Cleantech event in Chicago on May 23, 2018.

Opportunity for entrepreneurs

Now entering its eighth year, Clean Energy Trust’s mission and purpose has never been more clear. The organization exists to support emerging cleantech entrepreneurs and startups in the Midwest, help build vibrant businesses that are profitable, create jobs and better the environment. Early-stage cleantech entrepreneurs in the Midwest face unique challenges, but by applying to be a part of Clean Energy Trust’s portfolio, entrepreneurs can significantly increase their odds for success.

Since 2014 Clean Energy Trust invested $4 million in 23 companies. Some interesting metrics have been collected along the way:

  • 48% of portfolio companies received their first investment from Clean Energy Trust;
  • Portfolio companies have gone forward to raise $79 million in follow-on funding;
  • 39% of our portfolio companies are based on university intellectual property;
  • 68% have female or minority founders;
  • 30% have 1st or 2nd generation immigrant founders;
  • 68% are generating revenues, with 22% recognizing greater than $1 million in annual sales and all remain in business

“We were just coming out of the chute when we first met Clean Energy Trust in 2014. We were totally under the radar,” recalled Lisa Laughner, CEO of GoElectric. “Working with Clean Energy Trust absolutely set us up to raise our Series A and continue earning market validation.”

Investment criteria

The 2018 Clean Energy Trust investment opportunity is available for all early-stage cleantech startups based in the Midwest.

Early-stage is defined as an established startup entity Pre-Seed Stage through Series A. Cleantech is defined as companies falling within the following sectors: materials, renewable energy, storage, water, materials, agriculture, smart buildings / IoT, and mobility / transportation.

In addition to falling within one of these sectors, we are looking for companies that address at least 1 of the following impacts:

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • Use natural resources more effectively
  • Promote environmental sustainability
  • Address the effects of climate change

Timeline and process 

You will be notified as your application proceeds through the process.

  • Step 1: Submit your application
    • Applications are open from Nov 29 to January 12
  • Step 2: Initial Evaluation
    • Your application will be reviewed by our panel of 70+ outside evaluators—subject matter experts in technology, markets, and business across the energy, water, and agriculture sectors.
  • Step 3: Investment Committee Review
    • The top tier of companies identified by the evaluators will be selected for further consideration by CET’s Investment Committee
  • Step 4: Due Diligence and Investment Terms
    • A small group of the most promising companies will proceed to deep diligence, the companies and CET will agree to the terms of an investment that will be presented to the Investment Committee.
  • Step 5: Investment Decisions
    • In early April, companies will present to our investment committee in a closed-door session. The IC will deliberate and make investment decisions the next day.
  • Step 6: Pitch Preparation
    • We’ll work with companies that receive investment to refine their pitch and the companies will have access to our top-notch graphic design firm in preparation for Co_Invest Cleantech
  • Step 7: Co_Invest Cleantech
    • On May 23, these new portfolio companies will get on stage and pitch their company to an audience of investors and corporate partners.