Cleantech UP (University Prize)

Cleantech UP, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, is a premier opportunity for university students to tap into entrepreneurial ambition and passion for change. Students are asked to submit a business plan for a clean energy startup idea, 8-10 finalists will be chosen, and one team will win a $50,000 grant to further develop their idea.

As one of eight regional partners for the Department of Energy’s Cleantech UP, Clean Energy Trust will showcase the most innovative and promising university-based cleantech companies in the Midwest, of which one will receive a $50,000 grant.

Clean Energy Trust intends to maximize each student applicant’s access to quality mentorship, business development, and exposure. However, just 8-10 finalist teams will be selected to take part in a mini-accelerator, where they will have access to CET’s leading network of mentors, tailored curriculum, and our community of experienced innovators.

The winner of our final event – the Cleantech UP Showcase – will be determined by a panel of expert cleantech industry judges.┬áThe 1st, 2nd and 3rd place finishers will also go on to present at the Clean Energy Trust Challenge event – as well as the DoE National Cleantech UP competition.


  • 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

Application & Criteria

  • You must create an account with YouNoodle to access and complete the application
  • The application consists of short answer questions, and requires the upload of a pitch deck and a short video.
  • The first round of evaluations will be done by CET staff to determine 8-10 finalists teams. The finalists will be coached through a mini-accelerator and the final top finishers will be determined by a live panel of expert judges at the final showcase event.
  • For questions, please contact George Johnson at

Important Dates

  • December 1 – Application Due
  • December 12 – Finalists Announced
  • December 12 – February 8 – Mini-Accelerator (do not need to be on-site in Chicago)
  • February 9 – Final Cleantech UP Showcase Event in Chicago, IL