Meeting of the (Right) Minds to Advance Clean Energy Innovation
This post comes from INK alumna Micaela Whalen.
Last week my clean tech spirits were lifted. While the slow economic recovery drags on and long-term investment in the sector seems to lag, there are bright spots—you just have to find the convergence of the right minds and intentions. I had the opportunity to not only attend the Clean Energy Challenge in Chicago on Thursday, but also mentor one of the finalists, and it was so energizing to see the bright and innovative clean energy businesses coming out of the Midwest.
Brought to fruition by the Clean Energy Trust, the Clean Energy Challenge brings together early stage businesses and student-led university spin-outs to position some of the most meaningful clean tech advancements for market opportunities. What’s really cool is that the Challenge aligns the best clean energy innovations from their pool of contenders with access to the investment community, in addition to industry experts and leaders. The Challenge has been so successful at incubating quality businesses and innovations that the DOE sponsors $200,000 in grand prizes awarded to the panel-chosen winners. Beyond that, many of the companies competing go on to raise millions in venture funding.
This is an example of how organizing around a mission: to foster the growth and market opportunities for clean energy advancement, can facilitate home-grown entrepreneurship and problem solving for one of the nations greatest growth opportunities for the future.
Oh, and I would be remiss if not to mention a job well done by Challenge finalist HEVT, an innovative electric motor platform, with which I had the pleasure to collaborate. The INK team of Jessica Warren and myself conducted a messaging project for the HEVT team and helped prep CEO Heidi Lubin for her presentation at the Challenge. It was a rewarding experience all around, both to participate in the Challenge and have a positive effect on the development of the storyline for a company at its beginning.