70 submit business plans to Illinois clean energy contest

More than 70 business plans were submitted for the inaugural Clean Energy Challenge business competition in Illinois.

The Clean Energy Trust, a Chicago-based nonprofit, will award $130,000 in prize money to the best clean energy business ideas in Illinois with the potential to bring new clean energy technology to the marketplace.

The trust said Tuesday that a last-minute flood of entries crashed its servers just before the midnight deadline Monday. Submissions for the $100,000 early-stage business prize, and the $30,000 concept-stage prize, encompassed numerous areas of clean energy technology, including energy management systems, wind and solar energy innovations, automotive technologies, battery advancements, biomass, and clean energy financing.

Startup companies, university professors, students and independent entrepreneurs submitted plans.

“The volume of high-quality business plans exceeded our highest expectations,” said Amy Francetic, Clean Energy Trust executive director, in a statement.

An independent panel of evaluators will score the submissions and will provide a list of finalists to the trust in early January. Finalists will present their plans to a judging panel of investors and business leaders March 3 at the Midwest Energy Forum in Chicago.

The U.S. Department of Energy provided the $100,000 prize for early-stage companies. Additional financial support for the contest was provided by Acciona, Arcelor Mittal, Invenergy, DLA Piper, Google, city of Chicago, Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center and the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship.