The Structure of the Prize

The MIT Clean Energy Prize is a multi-stage, student-organized business plan competition. In 2016, student entrepreneurial teams competed for a $100,000 Grand Prize and $125,000 in category prizes, among other awards. University teams from across the United States enter their business ideas in one of four categories:

  • Generating Energy

  • Delivering Energy

  • Improving Energy Usage

  • Energy for Developing Economies

The prize structure changes slightly from year to year to ensure the CEP's relevance in a rapidly changing clean energy economy. However, the prize structure will be as depicted below.

In January and February, teams submit an executive summary and pitch deck. MIT CEP judges select 15-21 business plans (5-7 from each category), which then receive mentoring, $1,000, and access to other MIT CEP resources. During this time, finalists develop and refine their business plans before presenting them to a panel of expert judges at the CEP Finals event on April 14.

The top two teams in each category go on to compete in the Grand Finals on April 14. In the Grand Finals the six teams compete for a $100,000 Grand Prize, a DOE EERE Clean Energy Prize, and the three Track Prizes awarded by GE Ventures, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, and ENGIE.

Learn about the Submission Requirements and Apply Here

To be eligible to win the DOE EERE Clean Energy Prize and go on to represent the MIT Clean Energy Prize at the DOE’s National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition in Washington D.C., the entry must be consistent with the mission and technology portfolio of the DOE EERE.

Teams that win the grand prize or the DOE EERE prize are not eligible to receive track prizes. Therefore, the MIT Clean Energy Grand Prize and DOE EERE Prize winners are not eligible to receive Track Prizes. However, one team can win both the DOE EERE Prize and the MIT Clean Energy Grand Prize. The top three teams eligible for the DOE EERE Prize will be afforded the opportunity to compete for the national-level DOE Cleantech University Prize.

Generating Energy

  • Due to growing concerns of climate change and energy security, clean energy mandates are proliferating globally, and innovations are needed to help bridge steadily increasing demand with supplies of clean power.
  • Thus, teams participating in this track may present novel solar, wind, and biomass technologies, as well as software or hardware enabling the manufacturing, installation, operations, or maintenance of generation technologies.
  • Also pertinent are business models and financing innovations surrounding energy generation, like businesses enabling financing risk reduction or improved underwriting of clean energy projects.

Delivering Energy

  • From storage to smart grid technologies, innovations in energy delivery are needed to enable distributed generation and renewables to be better integrated in our grid infrastructure.
  • Teams in this track might present innovative energy storage technologies, battery management software, or storage integration and development business models.
  • Smart grid technologies for utilities, transmission improvements, demand-response technologies, and grid optimization software also fall under this umbrella.
  • The track also includes certain EV technologies like charging stations.


Improving Energy Usage

  • Energy efficiency and other demand side measures can greatly lower the need for energy and thus lower emissions.
  • Technologies well-suited to this track include those reducing household electric, heating, and cooling demand, as well as  public, commercial, and industrial energy demand reduction measures.
  • A broad range of EV technologies are also appropriate for the track.

Energy for Developing Economies

  • 1.2 billion people globally do not have access to electricity. This track is for teams developing solutions to this global problem.
  •  They may present businesses across the full range of clean energy topics but must have a clear developing economy focus.
  • Their project should be clearly applicable to non-OECD countries, and teams should demonstrate intent to commercialize their project in such regions.
  • This track is open to both for-profit and not-for-profit teams, but all must demonstrate a clear path to financial sustainability in developing economies.
  • The best teams will present solutions which offer genuine scalability and which have the potential to transform the lives of millions.

Tracks for Applications

More Information


Submission instructions

All teams must complete the following requirements in order to be considered for the competition.                                                                                                                                                                     



All teams must complete the following requirements in order to be considered for the competition.                                                                                                                                                                     


judging criteria             

The MIT Clean Energy Prize will catalyze a new generation of clean energy solutions to meet the world’s energy challenge through building capability in clean energy innovation and entrepreneurship.


Find a technology

Student teams are encouraged to explore U.S. University and National Lab energy technologies as the basis for their business plans.                                                 


Find a team

Pitch your technology or idea in our networking event at Greentown Labs on December 14th! Creating a strong team can make all the difference when growing a new company.

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Submit your application today!