WASHINGTON – As part of the Obama Administration’s Startup America Initiative that works to encourage and accelerate high-growth entrepreneurship throughout the nation, the Energy Department today announced that NuMat Technologies from Northwestern University won the first-ever DOE National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition. The competition aims to inspire university teams across the country and promote entrepreneurship in clean energy technologies that will boost American competitiveness, bringing cutting-edge clean energy solutions to the market and strengthening our economic prosperity.

“Inspiring some of the country’s best and brightest students to become the next generation of clean energy entrepreneurs is crucial to supporting an economy that is built to last,” said U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “The winning team from Northwestern University worked to build out a promising new materials technology, develop an effective business plan and sell the idea to potential investors, laying the groundwork for future economic opportunities that will ensure America remains competitive in the global clean energy race.”

NuMat Technologies presented a plan to commercialize a nanomaterial that stores gases at lower pressure, reducing infrastructure costs and increasing design flexibility. One potential application for this innovation is in designing tanks to store natural gas more efficiently in motor vehicles.  NuMat Technologies won based on its commercialization idea, go-to market strategy, team plan, environmental benefits and potential impact on America’s clean energy economy.

As the winning team, Northwestern University was awarded $180,000 which includes seed money for their business plan and additional prizes from sponsors including technical, design, and legal assistance. 

A total of six teams were invited to present their business ideas to a group of judges from industry and academia after successfully winning at regional level competitions earlier this year.  Each team created a business plan around a promising clean energy technology they identified from a university or national lab. The plans detailed how they could bring that technology to market, including financing, product design, scaling up production, and marketing.

The six finalists included teams from Northwestern University, University of Utah, University of Central Florida, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, and Columbia University.  Funded through DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the university-led competition supports the next generation of energy leaders who will boost American competitiveness.