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Entrepreneurs. Venture Capitalists. Clean energy. Competitions and funds.

Separately, these words only say so much, but together they describe the Energy Department’s efforts to support the best and brightest clean energy entrepreneurs as they work to push emerging, innovative clean energy technologies into the marketplace. Now, let’s add two words -- universities and students. Throw that into the mix, and the result? Tomorrow’s leaders and the future of America’s energy economy!

We all aspire to make a difference, and the Energy Department is giving that chance to our nation’s young minds. We’ve announced that $2 million under the newly released National Clean Energy Business Competition Funding Opportunity Announcement will be used to encourage collaboration among energy competitions and to broaden student outreach. This partnership can help increase the number and quality of clean energy start-up businesses -- and promote a new generation of energy entrepreneurs.

As Energy Secretary Steven Chu said, “Fostering innovation at America’s universities and producing our nation’s next generation of clean energy entrepreneurs is vital to ensuring our nation’s competiveness in the clean energy economy of tomorrow.”

This nationwide initiative will create a network of regional student competitions that are focused clean energy business creation.  Regional winners will compete for a National Grand Prize at a competition to be held at the Energy Department in Washington, D.C. next summer. The funding will support up to six regional competitions that will inspire, mentor and train students.

Participating students will gain the skills required to build new businesses and transform promising energy technologies into innovative energy products that will help us solve our nation’s energy challenges, spur business creation, create American jobs and boost economic competitiveness.

Interested in applying or want more information? The FOA has been posted to FedConnect and is available here under the reference number “DE-FOA-0000570.” Applications are due on August 22, 2011. Selections are expected to be made before the end of September 2011.