Market Overview

Launch of Energy Foundry a Game Changer for Illinois' Energy-Tech Startup Scene


A single provision of the 2011 Illinois Smart Grid law is poised to put Illinois on the map in the emerging energy-tech startup space. Energy Foundry, an early-stage impact venture fund, created by statute, announced its formation today at a kick-off event in Chicago before a mix of state and local policymakers, energy industry executives, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs. The fund expects to begin making investments in Illinois-based energy-tech startups within the next 30 days.

As part of the Illinois Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act (EIMA), Illinois electric utilities ComEd and Ameren provided $22.5M in initial funding for the creation of this first-of-its kind model to stimulate an innovation ecosystem focused on the emerging energy-technology marketplace. As created, Energy Foundry is a non-profit fund that invests and supports emerging Illinois-based energy-related startups. The fund is designed to be evergreen so that profits made from the fund are reinvested into other Illinois-based businesses.

In addition to taking a direct financial stake in startup companies, Energy Foundry also:

  • Provides turnkey startup support to help entrepreneurs focus on launching their business, instead of dealing with back office hurdles such as accounting and human resources.
  • Provides government strategy advice and support in securing non-dilutive public funding.
  • Helps entrepreneurs validate their value proposition and explore new opportunities with utility-owned test-bed proving grounds.
  • Provides an advisor / mentor board of business executives, technical experts, investors, and entrepreneurs possessing subject matter expertise and a deep reservoir of personal experience to help move young companies.

“A new generation of companies is emerging that will change the way energy is used,” said Jason Blumberg, managing director and 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 altogether with needed capital and other services to get Illinois-based grid-tech companies off the ground.”

“Energy Foundry serves the interests of Illinois' economy and its people,” said Martin Cohen, board chairman of Energy Foundry and former executive director of Citizens Utility Board. “Our investments will provide a leg-up to Illinois-based companies so they can grow and add jobs. Their success will sustain continuing investment by Energy Foundry in other innovative Illinois companies.”

“The creation of this grid-tech investment fund is yet another example of Illinois policymakers thinking in non-traditional ways to create smart and innovative policy solutions to propel our state forward,” said Anne Pramaggiore, president and CEO, ComEd. “We share Energy Foundry's vision for Illinois to become a hub of grid-tech activity. The smart grid law was an important step in that direction and this fund is a good illustration of what sound public policy can accomplish.”

Entrepreneurs interested in applying to Energy Foundry should visit for more information.

Energy Foundry
Jason Blumberg
Managing Director and CEO
(312) 239-3580

View Comments and Join the Discussion!