Building the future energy grid in America's Midwest


Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the Smart Grid Cluster is a platform for promoting business growth and entrepreneurial activity: offering technical and business support to smart grid start-ups and small businesses, continuously identifying and disseminating technical and product needs, and connecting innovators to market opportunities and capital in order to speed the path to commercialization. The Cluster also engages leading corporations, investors and policy makers to ensure continued growth. The Smart Grid Cluster is supported through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) as one of the 10 “Innovative Economies” selected in a national competition in September, 2010, and is managed by a partnership of Illinois’ leading energy organizations.

Cluster Leadership


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Supporting the next generation of businesses for the electric grid


The Illinois Smart Grid Cluster supports the innovation, investment, expansion and development of Smart Grid technology in three key ways:

Active Projects Supported by the Cluster


Inventing the way forward



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

Participating Companies






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.


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.





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.


Verde recently released a LED lighting subscription model for restaurants in the Chicagoland area – zero money down full lighting upgrades to the most energy efficient bulbs available. They charge a small subscription to maintain the lighting, which is smaller than the energy savings each month.

Restaurants can focus on running a restaurant instead of frequently changing out light bulbs, as well as enjoy reduced operating costs and improved customer experience. This solution is available for any small business, and we have already worked with some big names in Chicago, including Epic Burger, Lettuce Entertain You, and Roka Restaurant Group.





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.

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.





Root3 Technologies Inc. provides software that reduces energy costs 10-30% in onsite energy plants for universities, hospitals, manufacturing facilities and airports. Root3’s no-install, patent-pending technology uses data to optimize decision-making for energy plant managers, enabling them to meet energy demands with the least fuel consumption possible.


QCoefficient is a web-based platform that integrates HVAC operations in commercial buildings with electric grid operations and markets to lower building energy expenses and stress to the electric grid.

QCo’s automated, real-time, model-predictive control and optimization harnesses the thermal energy storage embodied in the physical structure of large commercial buildings (concrete, drywall), dynamically shaping daily cooling loads around hourly electricity prices, in order to dramatically reduce HVAC energy use and expense at these buildings and to provide targeted demand reductions in grid-constrained urban centers.

QCo’s innovation in energy storage is disruptive in pricing and performance.  Firstly, QCo storage is rapidly deployed with minimal capex and almost immediate ROI.  QCo storage is strategically located, can be installed in 2-4 weeks, and requires no space, zoning, or siting in the heart of the urban core where it can serve both regional and local purposes. The payback period on QCo’s platform is less than one month.  Secondly, QCo storage surpasses all available storage technologies in efficiency.  QCo storage performs at 100%+ electrical efficiency at the site and even more so at the source– at the site, by more efficient night-time operation and more efficient loading of chillers; at the source, by shifting electric production to more efficient night-time generation.  Thirdly, QCo storage lasts through infinite cycles with no degradation in performance.  The building thermal mass (concrete, drywall, etc.) does not wear out.





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.

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.

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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.

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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.



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.

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.


Green Per Square Foot is a web-based platform that enables building owners and operators to make their properties more energy, water, and waste-efficient.  Using building profile data, the platform recommends property-specific sustainability projects and connects decision makers with an expansive network of qualified service providers to complete the projects, while dramatically reducing capex through a proprietary competitive bidding process and incentives matching program.

GreenPSF offers several features to help property users manage their sustainability goals. Building owners and operators are able to create and maintain a building profile, integrate with EnergyStar to track utility data, create and distribute RFPs, and benchmark performance.  In addition, the platform provides a wealth of technical knowledge to help building owners and operators users decide on the best projects for their properties.

The GreenPSF platform also serves as a lead-generating service for tens of thousands of solutions providers.  Once a property decides to move forward with sustainability project, GreenPSF creates an RFP and distributes it to a selection of local solutions providers who are then able to participate in the competitive bidding process.  Within the platform, solutions providers may create a company profile, showcase past projects, and display customer reviews.  GreenPSF also offers sponsorship opportunities within the platform as well as for webinars and email marketing.

To date, the platform has been adopted by major utilities, corporate real estate firms, trade associations, and municipal governments to drive sustainability projects and jump-start the energy efficiency upgrade markets within their territories.




Edison DC Systems (EDCS) designs and builds equipment that improves end-to-end power efficiency in data centers. EDCS captures the energy savings of direct current (DC) over alternating current (AC) while addressing space and scalability costs traditionally associated with DC systems. EDCS’s patent pending, modular AC to DC converter racks deliver more power more efficiently to IT server equipment. EDCS improves system reliability and increases operator safety. EDCS’s proprietary technology is the only direct current solution that can be implemented at rack, row, or entire building level. EDCS is a QNBV-certified, Delaware corporation based in Grafton, Wisconsin.





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.


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.



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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.

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).





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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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.





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.





Inbalance Buildings is an Energy Engineering Service Company, headquartered in downtown Chicago. INBALANCE provides a broad range of facility related services in the industrial and commercial sectors, with core knowledge and turnkey performance delivery capability in Facility Energy Cost Reduction, Building System Modeling, Engineered Power Solutions, Project Management, LEED Consulting and Alternative Energy Solutions.  Our Core Services Include:

  • Engineered Power Solutions, including Power Factor Correction
  • Building Electrical System Modeling, including Arc Flash & Short Circuit Analysis
  • Retro Commissioning (RCx)
  • Demand Side Energy Management
  • Factory Floor Optimization
  • Project Management
  • LEED & Energy Star Consulting
  • Alternative Energy

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.


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).

intelligent gen




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.


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.


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.






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.

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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.



Partnering with the world’s leading energy companies & communities


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Powering a network of entrepreneurs, executives & innovators


The future of the grid is here