Building the future energy grid in America's Midwest


The Smart Grid Cluster supports economic growth for companies building the future of energy and the grid. We offer a combination of business, technical and financing support services that leverage the Illinois region’s robust corporate and research assets, and drive the continual economic growth of the energy innovation ecosystem.

The Smart Grid Cluster is supported through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and is managed by a partnership of Illinois’ leading energy organizations.

$85 million
in-follow on investments & grants for startups
A Growing Community of Startups


Supporting the next generation of businesses for the electric grid


Service Providers & Teams


The Illinois Science Technology Coalition (ISTC) is a member-driven, non-profit organization that cultivates and attracts research and technology-based investment, talent and job growth in the state. Through strategic public-private partnerships, advocacy efforts and project management, the ISTC connects government, academia and industry to leverage the state’s world class research and development assets to drive innovation and economic growth. ISTC members represent leaders in the Illinois innovation ecosystem. Through the ISTC, these organizations share a voice and develop partnerships that drive Illinois’ research and development pipeline, catalyze investment, and create the skilled workforce required to advance their research and economic development missions. The ISTC also oversees the Illinois Innovation Network, an initiative of the Illinois Innovation Council that serves as a platform to celebrate innovation across the state and connect innovators with a diverse array of tools and resources.Argonne.600x400


  • Bob Greenlee

    Bob Greenlee provides strategic advisory, legal, public advocacy, and project management experience to his role as Senior Advisor to the Illinois Science & Technology Coalition. Bob is responsible for the management of the ISTC’s energy efficiency demonstration projects. Bob also provides advisory and legal support to Energy Foundry, the impact venture capital fund devoted to the Smart Grid sector that ISTC helped to found. 

  • David Weinstein

    David is the founder and managing partner of Freshwater Advisors, a venture development firm that helps high-growth entrepreneurs and corporations with business development, market research, strategy execution, and fundraising advisory services. With experience as both an entrepreneur and civic leader, David currently serves as a consultant to the Illinois Science & Technology Coalition, where he oversees a corporate connectivity program for Illinois startups.  

Illinois Institute of Technology

Illinois Institute of Technology is a national, technological, Ph.D.-granting research university, with world-renowned programs in engineering, architecture, the sciences, humanities, psychology, business, law, and design.

Founded in 1940 and tracing its roots back to the 1890s with the foundings of Armour Institute of Technology and Lewis Institute, IIT brings a focused, interdisciplinary approach to education, including the Interprofessional Projects Program.  With five campuses throughout the Chicago area and alumni around the world, IIT pairs the educational and cultural experiences of America’s Second City with the small feel of an undergraduate population of just over 2300 and total population of just over 7400.

IIT Knapp Entrepreneurship Center

Jules F. Knapp Entrepreneurship Center offers a wide variety of supportive services for start-up and existing small businesses located in and around Illinois Institute of Technology.

Innovation drives today’s business. But innovation is only the beginning. The road to commercializing a product idea or revolutionary new service is difficult and filled with obstacles. The Jules F. Knapp Entrepreneurship Center is available to help you find resources to overcome these obstacles, and get you on the path to success.

Whether you need help developing realistic cash flow projections, finding your break-even point, accessing capital or helping you hire your first employee, turn to the Knapp Center.

University Technology Park

Located in the heart of Chicago’s south side on the Illinois Institute of Technology campus, University Technology Park (UTP) is one of the nation’s fastest-growing hubs for high-tech innovation.
UTP provides more than 300,000 square feet of wet and dry lab and office space for growing companies focused on materials and life sciences, biomedical engineering, medical devices and diagnostics, green and clean technology, food safety, information technology and many other fields.


  • David Baker

    Cluster Manager

    As Vice President for External Affairs, David E. Baker is responsible for IIT’s governmental relations, technology park development, and trustee relations. Over the past 12 years he has worked to create the University Technology Park at IIT of which he serves as Executive Director. He managed all university strategic plans from 1993 through 2009 and has helped to create the Perspectives Charter Schools/IIT Math & Science Academy, where he sits on the Board of Directors. 

  • Nasrin Khalili, PhD

    Nasrin Khalili is Associate Professor of Environmental Management at IIT Stuart School of Business. She has more than 10 years of experience conducting research and teaching in the areas of environmental management and business decision-making. Dr. Khalili has extensive experience in designing environmental management systems for industry, industrial carbon and water footprinting, carbon emission management, development of sustainable energy management tools and programs.  

  • Nik Rokop

    Nik Rokop is Industry Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship at IIT Stuart School of Business. He teaches entrepreneurship at the undergraduate and graduate level, in addition to assisting on special projects for the Dean of IIT Stuart, supporting the Entrepreneurship Academy, recruiting for the undergraduate business program, and supporting IIT’s Innovation Center. As a life-long entrepreneur, advisor to and investor in entrepreneurial ventures, Rokop has a passion for creating new businesses and helping others succeed.   


  • Donna Rockin

    Donna Rockin is the Executive Director of the Jules F. Knapp Entrepreneurship Center at IIT where she oversees the educational/training programs, technical assistance efforts, and mentor pairing process for Chicago-area entrepreneurs. Previously she was the Director of the Illinois Small Business Development Center/Duman Entrepreneurship Center at JVS Chicago. As a former successful small business owner, she has over thirty years of product development, marketing and communications experience in the for-profit sector. Donna holds an M.B.A from Loyola University-Chicago and a B.A. from Knox College. 

Energy Foundry

Energy Foundry couples investment with an exceptional set of resources and expertise; from testbeds to an advisor network, public private partnerships to turnkey startup support, we help entrepreneurs to reach their highest potential. In concert with the strategic overlay of Illinois’ grid modernization efforts, our investment model is designed to accelerate speed to market for promising energy ideas.
Energy Foundry was established as part of the landmark Illinois Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act to catalyze energy entrepreneurship and commercialization alongside the statewide $3.2 billion smart grid market driver. Energy Foundry is a private impact venture capital fund, designed to have an evergreen model. Initial funding was provided by ComEd and Ameren for an umbrella fund for Energy Foundry and the Illinois Science and Energy Innovation Foundation (ISEIF).


  • Jeremy Adelman

    Cluster Operations

    Jeremy has more than fourteen years of experience working with early-stage investors and entrepreneurs—building partnerships, raising capital, and commercializing cutting edge technology. During his career he has generated millions of dollars in support from corporations and individuals to fund innovation, research and growth.

Taite R. McDonald

  • Taite R. McDonald

    Taite R. McDonald is a senior advisor with the government initiatives practice in the Washington, D.C., office of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. Taite works with energy and clean technology companies to develop and execute strategies to access government grants, loans, and contracts across multiple states and federal agencies, including the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, the U.S Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Department of Defense. She has been successful in helping companies obtain millions of dollars of funding across these agencies and has also played a pivotal role in helping companies forge key partnerships with federal agencies and other government-facing bodies.


EnterpriseWorks is owned and operated by the University of Illinois to help launch successful startup companies, the 43,000 SF facility is at the heart of the Research Park’s community building efforts. Its atrium is a hub of activity and its clients span from biotechnology, chemical sciences, software development, to materials sciences. Through the commercialization of leading research from across the University of Illinois, its startups are working to address challenges with transformative results.



  • Jed Taylor

    Jed Taylor is the Assistant Director of TEC. In addition to his work at TEC he also works with startup companies as an entrepreneur-in-residence at Enterprise Works in the Research Park. Before joining TEC, Jed was the first employee and the Director of Sales at Pattern Insight — a startup out of the Computer Science Department.Jed has a B.S. in Computer Science from Utah State University, an M.S. in Computer Science and an MBA from the University of Illinois.

  • Laura Bleill

    Laura Bleill is the Assistant Director of External Relations for the University of Illinois Research Park. She has been with Research Park in a variety of capacities since 2010. Bleill has a master’s and bachelor’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University. She spent 10 years as a journalist before moving into academic communications, and her work has appeared in publications across the country, including daily newspapers, magazines and online.

  • Laura Frerichs

    Laura Frerichs is the University of Illinois Research Park Director and Director of Economic Development for the University of Illinois’ Urbana-Champaign campus. She is responsible for managing startup company services at the EnterpriseWorks technology incubator, marketing the Research Park, and supporting the University’s economic development efforts. Frerichs has developed innovative entrepreneur support programs as well as has attracted many new companies who are interested in engaging with the University of Illinois.


IMEC links long-term plans with on-site implementation services by identifying performance gaps, solving these gaps, and building a culture to support sustained improvements. IMEC helps manufacturers optimize operating capacity, implement advanced product and process innovations, increase sales and enter new markets, and improve profitability.



  • David Boulay

    David Boulay brings a diverse blend of expertise in performance management, small business development, and organizational growth strategies to IMEC. David have helped create and implement several initiatives to increase the flow of state and federal funding to manufacturers for projects, update worker skills, and help smaller manufacturers adopt new technology and business practices and to improve energy efficiency.


Located in the heart of Chicago, Coalition:Energyoccupies the penthouse suite of the historic Gage Building on Michigan Avenue. Just steps away from trains and downtown shops, members at this space enjoy panoramic views, which includes Millennium Park and Lake Michigan. Coalition provides space for companies seeking the open environment that coworking provides, or the independence of private offices, both benefiting from regular networking and educational events.




  • Kyle Gibson

    Kyle Gibson manages Business Development for Coalition: Energy, where he also serves as an operations manager to facilitate collaboration and networking among member companies. Kyle’s ten years of experience in education and small business customer service enable him to effectively assist in the development of Coalition’s small business environment while at the same time managing larger scale development to help Coalition expand. Kyle attended St. Xavier University and, after a brief stint in Washington DC, was happy to return to his native Chicago.  

  • Amy Yanow

    Amy Yanow is the Community Manager at Coalition: Energy. She facilitates collaboration and networking among member companies, while working on marketing for Coalition: Energy. Amy attended University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she majored in Environmental Communications and minored in French. She joined Coalition: Energy in order to help promote collaboration within the energy and cleantech community in Chicago.

Inventing the way forward

Accelerator Startups

Supporting small businesses and start-ups to take energy innovation to the next frontier

DATTUS helps industrial facilities compete in the rapidly evolving industrial environment through hardware + software solutions that enable data-driven intelligent decision making. Our platform technology for data collection, aggregation, visualization, and analytics provides a seamless path for industries to add “Smart” to their operations – enabling value delivery across maintenance & reliability, operational efficiencies, process & quality management, manufacturing yield & throughput, environmental health & safety, and in the case of machinery OEMs also post-sale support and warranties. 

Founded in 2013, DATTUS has won several national and international awards notably including 
* 2015 Tech Startup of the Year MIRA Award (Indiana) Nominee 
* 2014 Class of 2015 / Top 10 company $100K grant winner 
* 2013 DOE Clean Energy Challenge Midwest winner / National finalist 
* 2013 Rice Business Plan Competition semi-finalist 

SmartSenseCom is an advanced sensor systems company that safely supplies the best possible measurement, control, and diagnostic information for a wide range of applications. 

The company’s power monitoring systems use a tested fiber optic technology developed by the U.S. Navy to provide significantly more accurate and timely information to grid operators at sub-cycle speeds using a safer and simpler system compared to alternatives. 

SmartSenseCom’s power systems create the information layer necessary for advanced grid monitoring and control – helping safely integrate renewables, enabling fully automated grid control, and increasing the efficiency, security and reliability of transmission and distribution networks.

Artelys Corporation




Artelys is a company specializing in optimization, decision-making and modeling. Relying on their high level of expertise in quantitative methods, the consultants deliver efficient solutions to complex business problems. They provide services to diversified industries: Energy, Transportation, Environment, Finance, Telecommunications, Services, Defence.

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Intelligent Generation is a catalyst for clean energy adoption by networking distributed power sources into virtual power plants. Intelligent Generation democratizes how power is produced, stored and delivered to make renewable energy economically sustainable. Intelligent Generation makes clean energy pay off in green dollars.





Effortless Energy offers free home upgrades to homeowners.  They make your home more comfortable, healthier, more valuable, quieter, greener, and easier to control from your mobile devices by installing energy efficiency upgrades – such as smart thermostats, air conditioners, and insulation – that are right for your home at no cost to you.  By integrating real time data and advanced analytics, Effortless Energy offers an innovative contract model called the Home Efficiency Services Agreement, or HESA, whereby they pay for all the upgrades and you simply share the realized utility bill savings with them.


QuadROI provides business intelligence for utility sector investments in clean energy including ratepayer-funded energy efficiency programs.

The company aggregates public data and documentation that is difficult to access and poorly structured, creating a single repository with a user-friendly interface for paying subscribers to visualize, analyze and extract vital information from macro-level trends to project-level economics.

Members of the online platform include electric and gas utilities, their consultants and service providers, regulators, and advocacy organizations needing to better understand , benchmark their performance, and make more informed business decisions.


Power kiosk is an innovative energy retail SaaS company that helps its client succeed through efficient, competitive and comprehensive handling of all their need. Power Kiosk includes procurement, sales, accounting, tracking and CRM and is available at no upfront cost.




KENJIVA Energy Systems designs, deploys, integrates and aggregates Demand Side Management and Distributed Generation assets for Residential and Small Commercial Clients. Our transactive energy / smart grid service, “PayMeGreen™”, allows residential and small commercial prosumers the opportunity to participate in the ISO/RTO power markets while reducing transmission congestion and increasing distribution optimization.

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InvenTek is the inventor of the patented Rolled-Ribbon battery cell technology. Inventek produces cells in a spiral-wound disc format that then are stacked in a bipolar-type configuration to produces modules. The edge of the current collector makes contact with the top or bottom of the case, eliminating the need for tabs and providing a short current path to the case. Inventek says that this “continuous tabbing” opens power surge bottlenecks inside the cell. Stacking cells simplifies interconnections and enhances compact power, key in space-constrained automotive applications.


Smart Grid Network

Smart Grid Network is an industry leader in providing Smart Market® services, including business solutions and decision support for energy companies and government agencies worldwide. Our innovative software products provide unique and valuable insights that enable our clients to succeed in the energy marketplace.

The Smart Grid can be thought of as a “central nervous system” giving producers and consumers the ability to monitor and control energy consumption in real time. Smart Grid Network’s Smart Market® software provides the brainpower for making informed operational, investment, and policy decisions in a Smart Grid environment.


HEVT’s disruptive electric motor technologies leverage smart software with optimally designed hardware to create electric motors that provide a rare combination of performance, efficiency, reliability, and affordability, while reducing supply volatility due to the motors’ elegant design, simplicity of active materials and the absence of rare earth materials.

Silicon Valley based Software
Motor Corporation (SMC) announced today the acquisition of certain assets of HEVT
LLC, MARCH 2014, with a particular emphasis on HEVT’s patented Switched Reluctance Machine
(SRM) technology. Financial terms have not been disclosed.
HEVT’s switched reluctance machines leverage smart software along with optimally
designed hardware to reduce initial capital investment up to 60% while improving
operating efficiency up to 3X relative to competing technologies – all without rare earth
metals. This disruptive motor technology creates electric motors that improve
performance, efficiency, reliability and affordability. The motors’ design and simplicity of
raw materials also creates the opportunity to reduce supply volatility; their manufacture
does not require scarce rare earth metals.

Both companies’ commercial and technical teams will collaborate to ensure a smooth
transition and ongoing support for existing customers and vendors.


Power2Switch is the easiest way to switch your electricity supplier and save money on your electric bill. In five short minutes you can compare the widest variety of rates and save 20% or more, all with one simple click. Acquired by Choose Energy Inc (Sept 2013).

Potential Difference

Potential Difference, Inc.’s patented technology is the key to the growth of electric vehicles and users of cell phones, laptop computers, power tools, etc. are not stranded without power, charging off-the-shelf batteries in as little as 12 minutes, without overheating.





Intellihot, a Galesburg-based firm, designs and sells a tankless gas water heater that saves 30 to 45 percent in operating costs, in part by recognizing water-use patterns to deliver heated water to the correct faucet as soon as the faucet is turned on. Intellihot is the first company in the United States to design, manufacture and assemble commercial and residential tankless water heaters.

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NuCurrent represents the new gold standard for high-efficiency (“High Q”) inductors. We work with you to custom-design, fabricate and integrate the optimal High Q inductor for your specific application, be it wireless power antennas, surface-mount inductors or inductive coils. We specialize in high frequency (1MHz+) applications.

Founded in 2008 as a spin-off of the NUvention: Medical Innovations course at Northwestern University, NuCurrent has received numerous government grants, industry awards, and private investments to develop and expand its technology offerings.






Agentis supplies electric utilities energy-efficiency and energy-management software applications for their business customers. The Agentis Platform uses commercial and industrial energy-use data combined with company demographics to provide business users with best practice comparisons to similar businesses, and personal recommendations of efficiency improvements and usage optimization that will save money and resources. Utilities are able to educate and engage their customers with energy- and cost-saving recommendations, while meeting state-efficiency mandates.





RedWave Energy is developing technology and building a company to convert industrial waste heat to electricity at disruptive efficiency and price points.  RedWave’s technology is specifically designed to harvest low quality waste heat below 250°c that represents the most abundant source in an underserved market.  Waste heat is generated by many industrial uses ranging from glass manufacturing to electric power generation plants.  RedWave has identified electric power generation plants in the US alone as a $136 billion defined target market.  A business plan has been developed to exploit a very specific segment of this target market representing a $705 million annual opportunity.  Strategic end user and partner interest has been expressed in electric generation, flat glass manufacturing, glass container manufacturing, integrated circuit manufacturing and others.  The nanoantenna based technology is built from exclusively licensed and patent protected IP from Idaho National Labs, University of Colorado and a premier roll to roll manufacturing consulting firm MicroContinuum.  In addition to the larger energy market opportunity the technology has sophisticated THz level detection capabilities for materials such as methane gas and explosives.  The detection capabilities include a low cost room temperature approach for both a source and detector.  The Chicago based company led by a management team with previous IPO success is Series A funded by Northwater Capital for $3 million.  RedWave is currently in negotiations for a $6 million Series B round of investment.


Navitas Systems is a leader in integrated design, technology development, and manufacturing, providing energy enabled system solutions and energy storage products for commercial, industrial and government agency customers.

Whether it is a new, rugged military product, critical medical application, or a renewable energy system, Navitas Systems offers a variety of battery chemistries, energy management systems, and engineering services to optimize a cost-effective, long lasting, and high performance solution.

Navitas products range from customized energy storage solutions for high power applications and custom renewable energy integration systems, to standard products like Lithium battery replacements in traditional Lead Acid applications.

TransLumen Technologies




TransLumen’s Observational Training for Security and Safety

With work TransLumen started with the Department of Defense, TransLumen applies its Subthreshold Extreme Gradual Change (STEGC) algorithms to create advanced observational skills training for operators to recognize subtle cues, hazards and physical threats in complex environments and enhance perceptual skills for operators at command centers, field personnel in emergency response, and for security teams involved with physical security around its assets. TransLumen does this through the distributed gamification of videos that will be relevant for work situational awareness challenges that individuals find themselves confronting on a daily basis. 

TransLumen next generation alarms and alerts solutions for “Big Data”?

TransLumen uses its proprietary, patented designs and techniques to advance dashboard aggregation, navigation and more actionable graphical user interfaces to improve the user’s ability to recognize real-time anomalies with prioritization while providing more predictive information in critical situations over time. By aggregating what could be multivariate factors, TransLumen can then navigate and display information in a highly usable form by reducing screen clutter and visual noise (through TransLumen’s patented STEGC visual processing) and creating a persistent data drill-down in real-time with its v-INDICATOR™. In addition to the information displayed, TransLumen’s interface design decisions are made for screen scale and device attributes, mobility, and connectivity. The interface takes into account that both visual noise and visual clutter need to be reduced in order to allow the user to filter and identify the correct actionable tasks at the right time (increasing situational awareness).

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TM3 Systems provides smart power distribution products for portable and temporary microgrid applications. TM3’s technology enables monitoring, automation, control, and optimization, increasing the efficiency and reliability of power systems for our customers in the military, remote industry, and developing nations.

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  • AllCell3





AllCell Technologies designs and manufactures lithium-ion battery packs for portable, stationary, and transportation applications. Our patented thermal management technology allows production of compact, lightweight, and long-lasting batteries. AllCell’s thermal management technology is based on the use of phase change materials (PCM) to surround each lithium-ion cell, absorbing and conducting heat away to dramatically extend the life of the cells and prevent fire or damage to the battery. AllCell’s products avoid the need for expensive, complicated, and inefficient active thermal management systems, replacing pumps, motors, and hoses with an elegant passive system that requires no energy to operate and has no moving parts.






Formed to commercialize a patented flow battery invented at the Gas Technology Institute (GTI) in Des Plaines, Illinois, Altium Energy’s products represent a breakthrough in cost and energy density for stationary energy storage applications.





BetterNRG offers the best of breed electricity and gas offering along with a free Google Nest Thermostat making it fast and simple for consumers to save their wallet and the environment at the same time at no cost.





CityScan, a Chicago venture-backed software company, is leading the field in intelligent data collection and integration for Smart Cities and Utilities. Their patented process integrates private and municipal data with the most advanced 3D visual data collection methods available, resulting in improved efficiency operations while reducing overall costs. CityScan’s technology provides clients a solution to manage their assets, ensure businesses are operating within local ordinances and provide a safe environment for their residents.

  • StructurePore1

Development and engineering of advanced nano-structured battery systems


Xerion Battery was founded to develop and commercialize next generation ultra high power, high energy lithium ion batteries. We are creating scalable manufacturing methods to bring this exciting product to market.

Xerion initially plans to supply markets with millions of batteries per year utilizing fabrication methods that are highly analogous to current battery manufacturing techniques. This will yield cost competitive solutions via limited manufacturing complexity.

Xerion plans on providing batteries that have been tuned for various applications, some of which will require more power than others. We are working with industrial partners to understand their fundamental needs and craft solutions that will yield the highest possible market share.





SiNode Systems is a materials venture based out of Northwestern University that is commercializing a novel silicon based anode technology developed by research team led by Professor Harold Kung. SiNode aims to change the status quo of the industry by developing high performance anodes for Li-ion batteries.

network perception

Network Perception is a startup incubated at the research park at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and launched in Spring 2013. Founded by a team of researchers who are experts on network security and critical infrastructure protection, Network Perception is commercializing NP-View, formerly known as NetAPT or network access policy tool.

Partnering with the world’s leading energy companies & communities


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Active Cluster Projects


Powering a network of entrepreneurs, executives & innovators



The future of the grid is here