Illinois Supports Energy Startups WIth Venture Capital

Illinois wants to be home to early-stage cleantech startups, especially in the smart grid space, and it’s decided to support them with its own venture capital fund.

A single provision of the 2011 Illinois Smart Grid law makes this possible. Energy Foundry, an early-stage impact venture fund created by the statute, plans to make its first investments in the next month.

Legislation passed in 2011 authorizes a 10-year, $3.2 billion investment in a statewide smart grid. As part of the Illinois Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act, Illinois’ utilities are kicking in the initial $22.5 million.

The non-profit fund will invest in and support emerging Illinois-based startups – and profits will be reinvested in the fund for future company investments.

In addition to taking a direct financial stake, Energy Foundry will provide back office support such as accounting and human resources, and experts of various kinds will mentor businesses.  They will also be able to test their products with local utilities.

"A new generation of companies is emerging that will change the way energy is used," says Jason Blumberg, CEO of Energy Foundry. "Illinois is well suited to be a hub of energy-tech and grid-tech innovation. We have the right mix of research, talent, multinational corporations and eager entrepreneurs. Energy Foundry helps tie this all together with needed capital and other services to get Illinois-based grid-tech companies off the ground."

Illinois is home to the largest solar plant in the Midwest, sited right next to a big wind farm, and also boasts one of the most progressive state policies for distributed solar.

And in Chicago, under the leadership of Mayor Emanuel, planners are investing in leading-edge strategies for sustainable urban design and green building retrofits.

Here’s the Energy Foundry website:

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