Switched On: Student Innovations in Cleantech

Switched On: Student Innovations in Cleantech will showcase 8 of the most innovative cleantech business ideas being worked on by university students throughout the Midwest.

Switched On: Student Innovations in Cleantech showcased 8 of the most innovative cleantech business ideas being worked on by university students throughout the Midwest. After coaching and mentorship from Clean Energy Trust staff and external subject matter experts, these 8 finalist teams pitched at the final event to determine the winner of the $50,000 Cleantech University Prize sponsored by the Department of Energy.

Switched On gave attendees a glimpse into the early stages of research commercialization and science entrepreneurship, the opportunity to learn more about how our Midwestern universities are supporting student companies, and a chance for high level networking with our university and civic partners.

Student innovations were presented from the following universities: 

Case Western Reserve University – Cleveland, OH

Iowa State University – Ames, IA

Northwestern University – Chicago, IL

University of Chicago – Chicago, IL

University of Kentucky – Lexington, KY

University of Minnesota – Minneapolis, MN

Washington University in St. Louis – St. Louis, MO

For a full list of the eight finalist teams who competed, click here.

The Winners

A panel of expert judges made up of professionals in VC, energy, and corporate venture determined that Aerospec Technologies, a company out of Northwestern University, would win the grand prize. Aerospec impressed with their patented infrared imaging solar inspection technology and initial progress with their first customers.

Aelios Technology from University of Minnesota and Beltech from University of Chicago were also recognized as runner ups.


mHUB (965 W Chicago Ave)

February 8, 2018

3:00 – 6:00 – pitches and talks

ft. keynote from Sonny Garg, Energy Solutions Lead, Uptake

Reception and winner announcement to follow.


  • Cleantech UP is open to teams of students at undergraduate, graduate, or PhD levels.
  • Half of the team must be comprised of current, active students.
  • The program is open to students residing in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.

Important 2017 – 2018 Dates

    • September 18, 2017: Application Opens
    • November 30, 2017: Applications Close
    • December 2017 – February 2018: Mini-Accelerator (do not need to be on-site in Chicago)
    • February 2018: Final Cleantech UP Showcase Event in Chicago, IL (date TBD)