Hyliion from Carnegie Mellon University in front of their SMART Suspension System add-on hybrid module that reduces fuel consumption for heavy duty trucks. Hyliion won the 2015 National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition in Washington, D.C. | Photo by Matt Dozier, Energy Department.

Hyliion from Carnegie Mellon University won the National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition in Washington, D.C., yesterday, taking home the $50,000 prize for its SMART Suspension System, an add-on hybrid module for tractor-trailers that captures otherwise wasted energy to reduce fuel consumption. The competition -- now in its fourth and final year -- inspires the country’s best and brightest university students to become the next generation of entrepreneurs who bring clean energy technologies to the market.  

To win the competition, Hyliion faced off against four other regional finalists at The Pew Charitable Trusts, including FGC Plasma Solutions, Living Ink Technologies, Axiom Exergy and OptiBit. Much like the hit show “Shark Tank,” each team pitched their business idea to a panel of experts from the private sector. The teams created business plans around promising clean energy technologies they developed and explained how they would bring them to market through financing, product design, production scale-up and marketing.

Next year, the competition will transition over to the Cleantech University Prize (Cleantech UP), a $2.5 million funding opportunity that will build on the success of the National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition and help commercialize promising new technologies that reduce carbon pollution and grow the clean energy economy.

Spark Clean Energy, a national nonprofit focused on engaging students in clean energy, has been selected to run the Cleantech UP Hub and will be responsible for creating a national prize, training student entrepreneurs and serving as a coordinating body for energy entrepreneurship training. The hosts of the Cleantech UP Collegiate Competitions will provide cash prizes for eight individual university-focused competitions that will equip students with business skills to move clean energy technologies from the discovery phase to the marketplace.

The institutions below will serve as hosts:

  • California Institute of Technology
  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • Clean Energy Trust
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Rice University
  • Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
  • University of California-Berkeley
  • University of Central Florida

Together, the Cleantech UP Hub and Cleantech UP Collegiate Competitions will form a strategic network that increases student participation -- both in quantity and quality -- in clean energy entrepreneurship, addressing the existing gaps in early-stage commercialization training.

Congratulations to Hyliion, the Cleantech UP awardees, and to all participants and applicants!

Jennifer Garson
Jennifer is the Director of the Water Power Technologies Office, as well as a Senior Advisor and Acting Program Manager for Outreach, Engagement and Analysis in the Water Power Technologies Office at the U.S. Department of Energy, where she supports research and development in hydropower and marine renewable energy.
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