The Cleantech University Prize Competition provides the next generation of clean energy entrepreneurs and innovators with funding for business development and commercialization training, and other educational opportunities.

We invite innovative student teams from across the region to participate in this event!

Although subject to change, at this time, we expect the following in terms of initial eligibility requirements:

  1. Contestants will be limited to college students attending accredited community colleges, colleges, and universities in the states of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, and Maryland.
  2. The team leadership should be a current undergraduate or graduate student, postdoctoral scholars, or recent graduates as long as they graduated within the past 12 months. Non-students, however, may be on the team. Half the team must be students, and at least one team member must be a U.S. citizen. The U.S. citizen does not have to be a student. Students may consult non-students on their team, but only students can present or answer questions.
  3. The Competition offers two tracks:
    • Ready to Commercialize Track – validated lab prototypes poised for moving into the next stage of prototype development for customer testing.
    • Transformational Idea Track – discoveries that will have a major impact on the energy industry and economy.
  4. This year, student teams that have prototypes with a U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) operational energy-relevant application are eligible to win a single $35,000 prize at the National Cleantech University Prize Competition. Learn more.
  5. Student teams from all tracks are eligible to win the grand prize of $50,000.
  6. For the DOE portion of the competition, team concepts are limited to technical or service-based solutions that are novel applications of new or existing technologies or innovative financing models, and fit within the mission of the Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Office. Specifically, “The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy works to strengthen the United States’ energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality in public-private partnerships. It supports this goal through (1) enhancing energy efficiency and productivity; and (2) bringing clean, reliable and affordable energy technologies to the marketplace.” Acceptable technology areas are represented by EERE’s ten program offices:
    1. Building Technologies
    2. Advanced Manufacturing
    3. Vehicle Technologies
    4. Federal Energy Management Program
    5. Weatherization and Intergovernmental
    6. Biomass Program
    7. Geothermal Technologies
    8. Fuel Cell Technologies
    9. Solar Energy Technologies
    10. Wind and Hydropower Technologies
  7. Teams can compete in multiple regional competitions, but are only eligible to win first prize once at a regional competition.
  8. Additional cash prizes will be offered beyond the $50,000 first prize. If you are interested in being a prize sponsor, please let us know.
  9. The team does not have to be incorporated as a company at the time of application, however the team must be incorporated within two months to receive the prize money.
  10. Technology innovations do not need to be patented at the time of submission, however you do need to have authority to use the innovation. Review the IP declaration [.pdf].
  11. Note that once application is submitted, this includes public disclosure. This may influence a team’s ability to apply for international patents.

Additional guidance will be offered in the future on mentoring, incorporation, intellectual property, and previous investment limitations.