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Clean Energy Challenge Awards $100,000 Grand Prizes to Cleantech Startups from Michigan State University and Champaign, Illinois

The Clean Energy Trust announced the winners of the 2014 Clean Energy Challenge, which awarded a total of $500,000 to innovative clean energy startups. Champaign, Ill.-based EP Purification is the winner of the $100,000 Wells Fargo Early Stage Prize and Black Pine Engineering, a student-led company from Michigan State University, is the winner of the $100,000 Dept. of Energy Student Challenge Prize.

Other award included:

  • The $75,000 Clean Energy Trust Consumer Favorite Prize was awarded to myPower, a student team from Northwestern University.
  • Spero Energy of Purdue University won the $50,000 Aviation Energy Prize, presented by United Airlines, Boeing and Honeywell UOP. United Airlines will fly Spero Energy to Charleston, S.C., where they will visit the LEED Gold-certified Boeing 787 final assembly building.
  • The $50,000 ComEd / CET Female Entrepreneur Prize was presented to Go Electric Inc. of Anderson, Ind.
  • The $50,000 Clean Energy Trust Business Model Innovation Prize was awarded to Detroit-based Greenlancer.
  • The $25,000 McCaffery Interests prize was awarded to MeterGenius, a student team from Northwestern University.

Black Pine Engineering, the Student Challenge winner, will go on to compete for an additional $100,000 at the 2014 National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition in Washington, D.C. this summer. The Department of Energy provided the $100,000 Student Challenge prize.

The Clean Energy Challenge is one of the nation’s most important clean energy business events. Finalists from the past three Challenge events have raised more than $40 million in outside investment, created 280 jobs and registered 40 patents and disclosures.

The full roster of winners is:

Wells Fargo Early Stage Prize   $100,000     EP Purification   IL
Dept. of Energy Student Prize   $100,000     Black Pine Engineering - Michigan State University   MI
Clean Energy Trust Consumer Favorite Prize   $75,000     myPower – Northwestern University   IL
Boeing, United Airlines and UOP Honeywell Aviation Energy Prize   $50,000     Spero Energy – Purdue University   IN
ComEd / CET Female Entrepreneur Prize   $50,000     Go Electric Inc.   IN
Clean Energy Trust Business Model Innovation Prize   $50,000     Greenlancer   MI
McCaffery Prize   $25,000     MeterGenius – Northwestern University   IL

This year’s competition included businesses from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. State-level prizes of $10,000 each were also awarded to the following student teams:

Black Pine Engineering


Michigan State University



Imagine Labs

  University of Missouri   Thermoelectric Generation

Meter Genius

  Northwestern University   Energy Efficiency

Spero Energy

  Purdue University   Biofuels

Sprav Water

  Case Western University   Energy Efficiency

“The Challenge finds the very best in clean energy technology businesses and helps bring them to the marketplace,” Francetic added. “These prizes will help these entrepreneurs to move their technologies out of the laboratory and into the marketplace, helping the nation to continue to grow its burgeoning clean energy economy.”

Nine early-stage and six student finalist companies presented their business plans to a distinguished panel of nationally renowned investors, policy makers and entrepreneurs at the 2014 Clean Energy Challenge, held April 3rd in Chicago.

All of the Challenge finalists received coaching, training and business planning assistance from dozens of volunteer mentors coordinated by the Clean Energy Trust, a nonprofit technology accelerator that helps launch and grow clean energy businesses. The Clean Energy Challenge is the signature event of the Clean Energy Trust.

About Clean Energy Trust

Clean Energy Trust was founded by prominent business and civic leaders to fuel clean energy innovation in the Midwest. The trust is supported by grants from the U.S. Department of Energy, the Small Business Administration and donations from more than 70 investors, corporations, universities, foundations and trade groups. For more information, visit

Acknowledgement of Support

Clean Energy Trust gratefully acknowledges the following supporters of the Clean Energy Challenge:

Title Sponsors: U.S. Department of Energy and Wells Fargo

Platinum sponsors and prize contributors: Advanced Energy Economy; AGL Resources; The Boeing Company; ComEd; The Energy Foundation; GE; Honeywell UOP; Invenergy; The Joyce Foundation; McCaffery Interests; Northwestern University; Purdue University; Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP & Affiliates; United Airlines.

Gold Sponsors: Abbott Laboratories; Agentis; American Electric Power; CBRE; Danfoss; EDP; Ernst & Young; Exelon; Indiana University; JP Morgan Chase; Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP; MEGTEK; Midwest Energy Research Consortium; Missouri Energy Initiative; Navigant Consulting; Nicor; Nortech; NRG; Pivotal LNG; S&C Electric; Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP; Solar Power International; SoCore Energy; True North Venture Partners; University Clean Energy Alliance of Ohio; University of Illinois at Chicago; University of Michigan; Wanxiang America Inc.

Visit our website to see the full list of Silver, Bronze, and In-Kind sponsors:

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