Food Waste Reduction Startup Wins Clean Energy Trust Challenge

April 13, 2016

5:01 pm

The clean energy industry is no longer a niche market. Companies and countries alike are beginning to see the need for alternative means of power. And while some continue to cling to the old way of doing things, Clean Energy Trust is looking to motivate the movement by adding a little something to the mix: competition.

The Clean Energy Trust Challenge 2016 is an annual, Chicago-based business pitch competition that announced their winners on Tuesday night, and Hazel Technologies couldn’t be more excited. This food waste reduction startup, which produces biodegradable capsules to prevent food from prematurely spoiling, won the Illinois Clean Energy Fund Award. In addition to being an honor, this award comes with a $500,000 investment that will go to good use.

“We’ve already identified a larger space to move into in the Illinois Science and Technology Park (and can) purchase the necessary equipment to scale up our product fourfold,” said Aidan Mouat, CEO and cofounder of Hazel Technologies. “Within a couple months, we should be production-capable on the commercial scale.”

Based out of Evanston, IL, Hazel Technologies has been doing quite well in recent months to secure funding for this potentially game-changing innovation. In 2015, Hazel Technologies won the Northwestern Venture Challenge. In January of 2016, they were finalists in the 1776 Challenge Cup competition. They have even received $100,000 in funding from the United States Department of Agriculture to further develop their food waste prevention technology.

While funding goes a long way, Clean Energy Trust is not in the business of funding and running. They are committed to helping these startups build towards a prosperous future and a healthier environment through direct funding as well as advocacy and venture development.

“We’re going to set out some milestones for them to hit. … It’s a company CET can apply some elbow grease to and help them succeed,” said CEO of Clean Energy Trust Erik Birkerts in a statement.

Hazel Technologies wasn’t the only startup to come away with some serious funding. In fact, three other startups had something to show for their efforts in the clean energy fight. SPLT, a ride-sharing app focused on carpooling; NovoMoto, a social enterprise that provides renewable, sustainable electricity with MicroPlant technology to Sub-Saharan Africa; and Nexmatix, a platform of products that makes pneumatics more efficient, were the other winners in the competition, coming away with anything from $90,000 to $310,000 in funding. Since 2011, Clean Energy Trust has funded 29 Midwest clean teach startups, and by the looks of it, they have no intention of slowing down any time soon.

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Conor is a writer, comedian and world-renowned sweetheart. As the Assistant Editor and Writer at Tech.Co, he’s written about everything from Kickstarter campaigns and budding startups to tech titans and innovative technologies. His background in stand-up comedy made him the perfect person to host Startup Night at SXSW and the Funding Q&A at Innovate! and Celebrate, posing questions to notable tech minds from around the world. In his spare time, he thinks about how to properly pronounce the word "colloquially." Conor is the Assistant Editor and Writer at Tech.Co. You can email him at

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