WASHINGTON, D.C.-- On June 25, the U.S. Department of Energy selected Spark Clean Energy to administer the 2016-2018 Cleantech University Prize (“Cleantech UP Hub”) program, supporting and training the next generation of energy innovators and entrepreneurs. Spark Clean Energy is responsible for training student entrepreneurs, developing a national clean energy prize, and serving as a coordinating body for student energy entrepreneurship training across the nation.
“We are thrilled to be given the opportunity to further our mission of increasing student involvement in clean energy innovation across the country," said Butch Frey, a Spark board member and an administrator of the national program.
Central to this program is a strategic partnership between Spark Clean Energy, VentureWell, and faculty from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to build a vibrant, empowering community for students solving the world’s toughest energy challenges. Student winners of regional and national competitions will be awarded cash and prizes for their businesses.
The Cleantech UP program continues the success of the Department of Energy’s National Clean Energy Business Plan Competitions. Between 2012 and 2014, 750 student teams have competed, creating 70 incorporated startups, filing 55 patents and disclosures, creating more than 120 jobs, and receiving more than $38M in follow-on funding. In partnership with eight regional competitions, Spark will increase the number of participating universities and teams, and expand access to underserved students.
To do so, Spark will offer a cutting-edge cleantech entrepreneurship online course at no cost, hosted at incubators and universities across the country. Bill Aulet, the managing director of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship at MIT and a senior lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management, said “Entrepreneurship in the energy area is of vital importance for so many reasons, and it is also much, much harder than people realize. For this reason, it is imperative that a rigorous approach be taken to the education of the next generation of energy innovators and I am glad Spark is taking the lead on this. We have spent over 7 years developing a highly effective energy-specific educational program for teams of graduate and undergraduate students and we are eager to make this available to any aspiring energy entrepreneur through this new DOE award with Spark.”
"This is an exciting chance to help students from across the nation become clean energy innovators," said VentureWell CEO Phil Weilerstein. "We are thrilled to bring our networks, resources and know-how to this important partnership."
Spark’s partner institutions hosting the Cleantech UP regional competitions are California Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon University, Clean Energy Trust, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Rice University, Rutgers, University of California-Berkeley, and University of Central Florida.
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About Spark Clean Energy
Founded in 2014, Spark Clean Energy is a nonprofit organization with a mission to empower the next generation of energy innovators and entrepreneurs. Learn more at sparkcleanenergy.org
VentureWell was founded in 1995 as the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA) and rebranded in 2014 to underscore its impact as an education network that cultivates revolutionary ideas and promising inventions. A not-for-profit organization reaching more than 200 universities, VentureWell is the leader in funding, training, coaching and early investment that brings student innovations to market. Inventions created by VentureWell grantees are reaching millions of people in more than 50 countries and helping to solve some of our greatest 21st century challenges. Visit www.venturewell.org to learn how we inspire students, faculty and investors to transform game-changing ideas into solutions for people and the planet.
About Bill Aulet
Bill Aulet is the managing director of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship at MIT and also a senior lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Since 2007, he has taught MIT's Energy Ventures course which he created and developed, in which teams of engineers, entrepreneurs, computer scientists, and policy students from across MIT and Harvard learn how to take a great idea in the clean energy sector, commercialize it, and bring it to market. Mr. Aulet is also the author of Disciplined Entrepreneurship: 24 Steps to a Successful Startup. In his distinguished career, he has raised over $100 million in funding for his companies and, more importantly, directly created hundreds of millions of dollars of market value.