Clean Energy Trust
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Clean Energy Trust

Clean Energy Trust Announces $500,000 In New Seed Investments As Part Of Its Most Recent Investment Cycle

These new investments unveiled at Clean Energy Trust’s signature Co_Invest Cleantech Event

Today, Clean Energy Trust announced its most recent early-stage investments, totaling $500,000, at their annual sustainable technology investing conference, Co_Invest Cleantech. Over 300 entrepreneurs, investors, executives, and technologists from around the country gathered in Chicago for a day that celebrated a shared belief in the powers of technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship to address the hardest challenges of decarbonization and environmental sustainability.

“Clean Energy Trust helps ensure that clean energy entrepreneurs and technologies have a path for growth and success here in the Mid Continent Region of the U.S.” noted Clean Energy Trust’s CEO, Erik Birkerts. “We are excited that our latest four investments showcase the terrific innovation taking place in the region. In addition to our seed funding, we will provide strategic support and connectivity to help these high-potential businesses to scale.”

Clean Energy Trust believes that entrepreneurship and innovation are powerful forces that can be leveraged to address environmental challenges, create jobs, and generate investment returns. Since 2014, it has been one of the most active early-stage cleantech investors, investing in 31 companies from 12 Mid Continent states; these companies have gone on to raise more than $94 million in follow-on funding after Clean Energy Trust’s initial investment and created hundreds of jobs.

Today, Clean Energy Trust announced investments in four new companies who will join the organization’s investment portfolio:

Darcy (Excelsior, MN)

Ground source heat pumps (GSHPs) enjoy substantial lifecycle cost advantages over conventional HVAC systems, but high installation costs present a significant hurdle for project developers. Darcy Solutions has developed a novel approach to the design and installation of GSHP systems that directly addresses these issues by utilizing groundwater aquifers for heat exchange and inducing advection. With their systems, Darcy Solutions can leverage the superior energy storage and heat transfer capacity of water to decrease loop field size and number of wells for significantly lower up-front capital costs as compared to conventional systems.

Nikola Power (Denver, CO)

Nikola Power is an energy storage company developing software that optimizes and manages energy storage systems in commercial and utility applications. Their Intellect Energy Management System optimizes and controls battery energy storage systems using advanced control theories and machine learning that maximizes operations and maintenance savings. For project developers and financiers, Nikola’s web-based Ratio application models the optimal size of a battery asset and critical financial outputs based on a customers’ existing load data, and uses the same cutting-edge algorithms that power Intellect to calculate peak shaving, energy arbitrage, and demand charge deductions for behind-the-meter systems.

Wright Electric (Wichita, KS)

Air travel is by far the most emissions-heavy and environmentally damaging activity the average person undertakes each year. Wright Electric is working towards making aviation more sustainable with a goal of building ultra-efficient single-aisle commercial airliners that enable cleaner travel. Wright’s first aircraft, the hybrid-electric Wright One, will be able to improve fuel burn by 45%, reduce engine noise by 50%, and shorten takeoff distance by 25%. Wright One will target the short-haul route market, commercial aviation’s largest segment, and directly compete with Boeing 737 and Airbus A380 class aircraft.

C-Motive (Madison, WI)

C-Motive Technologies has developed the first commercially viable electrostatic motor, a lightweight, high-torque motor/generator that runs on the principle of electrostatic forces (also known as static cling) and eliminates the need for heavy rare-earth magnets and costly external cooling mechanisms. Produced with voltage instead of current, C-Motive’s motor produces zero heat and nearly lossless torque for extremely high efficiency at low rotation speeds. With C-Motive’s technology, engineers designing complex systems can now consider electrostatic motors as viable alternatives to electromagnetic motors and actuators, in addition to pneumatics and hydraulics.

As of today, Clean Energy Trust has invested $5.3 million in 31 innovative cleantech startups from the Mid Continent region of the United States:

  • 68% of these companies are generating revenues
  • 55% of these companies have female or minority founders
  • 39% of these companies received their first investments from Clean Energy Trust
  • 39% of these companies are based on intellectual property developed at our Universities

Clean Energy Trust’s funding programs have served as a launching pad for the region’s cleantech startups since 2011. The investments announced today were made during the previous 5 months from Clean Energy Trust’s seed fund, which accepts applications on a rolling basis at

Today’s event featured prominent speakers including

  • Dr. Pratima Rangarajan, CEO of OGCI Climate Investments, interviewed by Amy Francetic, Managing Director of Energize Ventures,
  • Jennifer Rumsey, CTO of Cummins, interviewed by Betsy Zeigler, CEO of 1871, and
  • Mindy Lubber, CEO of Ceres, interviewed by Erin Ailworth of the Wall Street Journal

The startup’s presentations, keynote speakers, and attendee discussion all reflected the importance of entrepreneurship in combating the effects of climate change, driving economic opportunity, and enabling both high-impact and attractive financial returns.

About Clean Energy Trust:

Clean Energy Trust brings cleantech innovation to market by finding, funding, and growing high-impact cleantech startups from the Mid Continent region of the United States. Structured as a nonprofit, Clean Energy Trust makes seed investments and provides patient, hands-on support to help entrepreneurs scale and succeed. To date, Clean Energy Trust has invested in 31 companies. Learn more at



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Ian Adams

Ian Adams


I work at Evergreen Climate Innovations in Chicago. I’m passionate about clean energy, innovation, and market driven solutions.