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US Department of Energy - Clean Energy Challenge


Students and faculty interested in the new 2012 Clean Energy Challenge are invited to an information session on October 21, 2011, 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the Student Union Room 335. Teams competing in the Student Challenge of the Clean Energy Challenge will vie for a $100,000 Grand Prize, and an opportunity to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy’s first-ever national business competition for university students. Eligibility is limited to applicants from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Kentucky and Wisconsin. One team will receive the $100,000 Grand Prize and will move on to compete in a National Grand Prize competition, organized by the Department of Energy in Washington, D.C in the Summer of 2012.

Applications can be submitted starting November 1st, 2011 through the Clean Energy Challenge iStart submission portal. Teams will be expected to work closely with their university technology transfer office to identify a technology to build their application around. Applicants will be asked to provide a brief executive summary describing the problem, the solution, the market, and a preliminary commercialization plan. In addition to the executive summary, teams will be asked to include a link to a 3-minute investor pitch, as well as a brief resume of each team member. Preference will be given to teams that demonstrate clear commitment to entrepreneurship and energy innovation. The deadline for submission is December 5th, 2011. For more information contact Dr. Ajay Mahajan ( or Mr. Barry Rosenbaum.

Application Content Recommendations

Company Background: Describe the value proposition of your business in 50 words or less. What is the problem statement and how does your technology solve the problem? Describe the market opportunity in 50 words or less. Briefly describe the competitive landscape. What existing technologies will you compete with, and how is your technology different and better than the competition? Briefly evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your team. Your team should have individuals with complementary business and technical skills. Please briefly address any gaps in skills and/or experiences among your team members and plans to address those deficiencies. Have you engaged outside advisors/mentors?

Team Member Info: Please answer the following questions for each team member: 1) Name, 2) Phone, 3) Email, 4) University affiliation, 5) Academic History, Briefly highlight any other relevant experience including technical credentials, entrepreneurial experience, or other business experience, and 6) What are you looking to accomplish through participation in this program?

Intellectual Property: Describe the intellectual property required. Teams that are licensing technology from a university must have written approval from the technology transfer office. Teams that are licensing a technology from DOE must have written approval from the licensing officer responsible for the IP in question.

Executive Summary Submission: Provide a 3-page executive summary of your business concept. All attachments must be uploaded in .PDF form. A good plan will answer the following questions:

  1. Description of the product or service: Did the applicant present a clear description of their technology? Did the applicant convey the value proposition of their business? Does the technology leverage the strengths or natural resources of the Midwest?
  2. Feasibility: Did the applicant present a viable business model? This includes a demonstrated understanding of the quantity and use of funds needed to achieve successful commercialization of the technology. Are there potential problems with intellectual property ownership/licensing? Is the business sustainable, even if the business does not fit the venture capital model? Did the applicant clearly describe potential regulatory barriers to commercialization and/or adoption of the technology?
  3. Market Opportunity: Did the applicant identify a market of sufficient size potential of the technology? Did the applicant demonstrate a strong understanding of the competitive landscape? Did the applicant clearly communicate the strength of their technology over their competition?
  4. Management: Does the applicant have a strong management team? Does the team have a relevant mix of experience? (e.g. technical, policy, business) Did the applicant address the weaknesses of their management team and do they present a credible strategy to address those weaknesses?