To participate in the CU Cleantech New Venture Challenge, the teams must satisfy the following three main eligibility requirements:

1) At least 50% of the team members must be current students

2) At least 20% of the company equity must be held by current students

3) Businesses must utilize a technology related to renewable energy or energy efficiency

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Examples of Applicable Technologies

While cleantech is typically defined as technologies that enable consumers and businesses to recycle, reduce & reuse, because this competition is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy the scope of applicable technologies is slightly narrowed to fit within the mission of the U.S. DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). Examples of acceptable technologies include:

Advanced Materials
Biomass & Biofuels
Building Energy Efficiency
Electricity Transmission and Distribution
Energy Analysis Models, Tool and Software
Energy Storage
Hydrogen & Fuel Cell
Hydropower, Wave and Tidal
Solar Photovoltaic
Solar Thermal
Vehicles and Fuels
Wind Energy


The Fine Print

The rules can best be summarized with the above three requirements, but of course there’s some fine print involved. Teams will also additionally have to abide by the following requirements:


  1. Business plans must satisfy the Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) mission and technology portfolio, defined as “(1) enhancing energy efficiency and productivity; and (2) bringing clean, reliable and affordable energy technologies to the marketplace”.
  2. Team must have at least 50% student involvement from students minimally enrolled as part-time students at accredited universities in the Western Midwest Region. Additionally, students must own at least 20% of the company equity, and the company must be incorporated and have an Employer Identification Number (EIN) prior to receiving any DOE sponsored cash prizes. Note that incorporation must only be completed prior to receiving any cash prizes, and does not need to be completed before the competition deadlines. Additionally, teams receiving NREL commericalization assistance must also incorporate before services can be rendered.
  3. Formal team members may be citizens of foreign countries. However, at least one U.S. citizen must be a formal team member.
  4. U.S. citizens attending universities abroad may participate in the competitions, given that the makeup of the formal team members meets all other criteria.
  5. Teams must not have equity totaling more than $200,000 prior to selection of regional winners.
  6. No team can win more than one DOE-sponsored competition at the regional level (title and money).
  7. Only students are allowed to present at the regional and national competitions. Non-student team members must only act as support to the team.
  8. Non-student team members may consult with students during Q&A, but students shall respond to all questions.
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