Eligibility Requirements



The make-up of business plan teams shall follow the following criteria:

  • Teams must be comprised of two or more members
  • At least 50% of formal team members (defined as all those included in the incorporation of the business) must be students enrolled in accredited U.S. universities or colleges.
  • Formal team members may be citizens of foreign countries. However, at least one U.S. citizen must be a formal team member.
  • U.S. citizens attending universities abroad may participate in the competitions, given that the formal team members meet all other criteria.
  • Only students may present business plans at regional and national competitions. Non-student team members must only act as support to the team.
  • Non-student team members may consult with students during Q&A, but students shall respond to all questions.
  • The business must demonstrate high growth and/or large market potential
  • Teams are not required to have full ownership of IP upon entry in the competition. However, teams must submit a signed letter from the Technology Transfer Office at their school, or the Department of Energy Licensing Officer validating that the technology in question has been approved for inclusion in their application to the Challenge. Click here for more information on IP requirements.


  • Ventures cannot have generated revenue or raised outside equity capital prior to the current academic year.
  • A business venture that reaches the Finals may not compete in future Clean Energy Student Challenge competitions.
  • Prize money will not be awarded to individual team members. Teams must incorporate (verified by EIN) prior to the final distribution of awards.


IP Status Requirements

All competition entrants are required to disclose the status of all intellectual property (IP) used in the competitions:

  • Technologies used in the competitions must derive from universities or national labs.
  • Teams must complete the attached form to disclose the ownership of the IP associated with the technologies they present as part of the business plan competitions. Failure to do so will prevent advancement within the competitions.
  • Teams must sign the attached letter of agreement that they will not misrepresent the ownership of or authority to practice any intellectual property required to practice the technology necessary to execute the business plan nor will they disclose any confidential information about said technology. Failure to do so will lead to immediate disqualification.

Stage of Business Development and Ownership

To ensure a level playing field among business plan teams nationwide, all entrants must be early stage venture investments. Teams must meet the following criteria:

  • Ventures participating in the competitions may not have equity capital totaling more than $200,000 prior to selection of regional winners.
  • Teams must be incorporated and have an Employer Identification Number (EIN) prior to receiving DOE awards or prizes.
  • All formal team members must demonstrate ownership by way of equity in the incorporated entity that emerges from the regional business plan competition.
  • Student members of the formal team should have combined minimum equity of 20% of the company.