Cleantech University Prize

Clean Energy Trust supports student entrepreneurs mentorship and resources through the Cleantech University Prize Competition


The Cleantech University Prize competition is a business plan competition for student entrepreneurs who are developing a business plan based on intellectual property from their university. This competition is one of the organization’s longest-running programs. Originally created under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the program is designed to address the lack of robust support programs and funding for clean energy technology companies being developed and spun out of universities in the region. The program also serves to catalyze student interest in and engagement with clean energy entrepreneurial pursuits.

Each year, Clean Energy Trust coordinates with regional universities to promote the opportunity to students. Teams must consist of at least half students (undergraduate or graduate) and must be based in the Midwest or Mid Continent region to be eligible. Teams that apply are reviewed by external evaluators and Clean Energy Trust staff. This process winnows down the dozens of applicants to approximately 6 to 8 finalists. These teams are then matched with expert mentors and provided with pitch coaching and other tailored curricula. The process culminates with the finalist companies presenting to a large stakeholder audience (~150+) and a judging panel. The winning company is presented with a non-recourse $50,000 grant and benefits from other Clean Energy Trust programming.

Program Information and Timing

The Cleantech University Prize Competition has historically been supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, but support recently ended and future support is uncertain. While Clean Energy Trust remains committed to providing programming that supports student entrepreneurship in cleantech, Clean Energy Trust will not be hosting the Cleantech University Prize competition in the spring of 2019. However, we look forward to providing programming for student entrepreneurs in the cleantech space in the future.

In the meantime, we encourage student businesses to apply to our Seed Fund.