Make an Impact. Make a Difference.
The spark of an idea is all it takes to start down a path that can make a real impact & difference in the world. For the most creative, innovative cleantech ideas, the CU Cleantech New Venture Challenge can help foster those initial ideas into viable business plans. Teams that participate in this competition can go on to deploy their clean technologies to help solve the world’s most pressing economic, social and environmental challenges. Make an Impact. Make a Difference. Start Here.
A Business Plan Competition
The CU Cleantech New Venture Challenge is one of the regional competitions in the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition. The competition is hosted by CU Cleantech, which is housed within the Deming Center for Entrepreneurship at the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado – Boulder, and along with the sister competitions at M.I.T., Rice University, Caltech, University of Maryland and Clean Energy Trust, we’re working to inspire the next generation of energy entrepreneurs that work to solve some of our nations biggest challenges. By engaging with students and allowing them to turn their ideas into actions, the CU Cleantech New Venture Challenge Business Plan Competition gives students an entrepreneurial experience that can not only change these students’ lives, but also maybe even change the world.
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Engaging the next generation of America’s energy leaders that have developed effective strategies for commercializing new clean energy technologies that will help American businesses lead the future.
Stephen Chu, Secretary of Energy
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A Short Video Overview
The following is a short video that gives a broad overview of the CU Cleantech New Venture Challenge Business Plan Competition. Hear from Trent Yang, the director of CU Cleantech, Merle Skykes, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of EERE, DOE, TJ Deora, the former head of the Colorado Energy Office, plus several of the competing teams from last year’s competition.
Seed Stage Funding for your Cleantech Ideas
The top prize for the CU Cleantech New Venture Challenge is $100,000 cash to help your team launch your business. These days cleantech companies are facing a tough fund raising environment, and the $100,000 cash can not only provide bridge funding while your team further develops the technology, but it provides significant validation that your company has a great chance for success and can improve your team’s ability to raise follow-on funding down the road if needed. If you’re wondering how to start a cleantech business when you’re full of ideas and empty of capital, the CU Cleantech New Venture Challenge is a great opportunity for you.
We’re providing the seed stage funding to help our young cleantech companies make it through the commercialization valley of death.
Steve Herschleb, NVC Program Manager
World Class Partners
The CU Cleantech New Venture Challenge Business Plan Competition has partnered with two world-class organizations: the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) and the Cleantech Open. These organizations provide an amazing array of resources, including connections, expertise, exposure, experience, and practical advice. In addition to helping to organize the competition, they have both graciously opened up their doors to our participating teams by providing in-kind support to the top teams. NREL is not only offering 40 hours of their technical experts time through their commercialization assistance program, but also offer entry into the NREL Industry Growth Forum. The Industry Growth Forum brings together the best clean energy companies with top cleantech investors to advance the state of the cleantech ecosystem. The Cleantech Open runs a world renowned accelerator program that vigorously prepares clean tech startups with the business acumen they’ll need to succeed in the market. The Cleantech Open offers free entry into the semi-finals round of their accelerator program, and teams will have the chance to compete for even more monetary and in-kind prizes.
Mentor Driven Learning
The CU Cleantech New Venture Challenge Business Plan Competition is a student-centered competition where teams must have at least 50% student participation. These young entrepreneurs have the passion and drive to see their ideas turned into viable businesses, but they may lack the experience to avoid common pitfalls and challenges. That’s where the mentors come in. We’ve built up an impressive pool of mentors made up of cleantech entrepreneurs, investors, innovators, and academics. Each team will be assigned a mentor to help them through the process of creating a business plan by helping the team define the market validation & analysis, industry attractiveness, product & solution, business model and risk vs. talent narrative. In addition to the mentor, the Venture Team will work with each team to review their business plans and make sure each team has the best possibility of success.
We were able to actually design our own system, which as an engineer is the most inspiring thing that you could ever do. You can actually help solve a problem in an industry and help address a market. It’s just one of the most exciting things that you could possibly do.
Charlie McIntosh, BioRecyclean
Ready to Accept the Challenge?
Comprehensive Feedback Process
Throughout the competition, your team will receive valuable feedback on your ideas to help you form the most effective strategies to commercialize your innovative clean technologies. Feedback will be provided by your mentor, the Venture Team, the community, and of course the judges. By iterating after each round of feedback, teams can shape their initial rough ideas into viable businesses. For all judging rounds, comprehensive feedback – both quantitative and qualitative – is provided back to the teams using the industry leading Valid Evaluation software.
Appreciate the feedback! It will be extremely useful for our team moving forward. We are grateful to get the advice and expertise of such experienced & knowledgeable judges.
Ashley Stratman, BioRecyclean
We’re looking to spur new businesses and actually pair them up with folks that can finance.
Merle Skyes, Deputy Assistant Secretary of EERE, DOE
The CU Cleantech New Venture Challenge Business Plan Competition is a platform to grow the most innovative cleantech ideas that can have the greatest impact on how we produce and utilize energy into successful businesses.
Got a great cleantech idea? Signup! We’ll help you through the process to develop a viable business plan with mentorship, events, webinars, blogs and our venture team of business development specialists.
Take the challenge and compete! If the prize money isn’t enough, you’ll also receive feedback on your ideas and plans from judges made up of industry leaders, entrepreneurs & experienced investors.
The best part about competitions is winning. And in this competition, the winner takes home $100,000 cash to help advance their business. There are also great in-kind prizes from our partners for the top finishing teams.