BRITE Energy Innovators

Accelerating the Pace: How Leaf is Revolutionizing Engineering

Leaf team at NREL's RE+ event

As an undergraduate founding team from Case Western Reserve University, Leaf Automation leaned on the Great Lakes Energy Institute undergraduate incubator to navigate the complex energy innovation landscape. After graduation, they desired to take their company to new heights, but felt left behind without the university’s resources. In search of critical resources and connections, Leaf connected with BRITE to receive the support they needed to take their innovation from university to market. 

Leaf’s chief technology automates drafting processes in engineering design using artificial intelligence (AI). Co-Founder Evan Haug explains that their target customers are engineering firms, and their end users are engineers who benefit from reducing repetitive work and avoiding burnout. He highlights how Leaf’s AI automation can accelerate the pace of renewable energy infrastructure projects. Their plan is to expand into larger systems, such as 3D systems, and work in parallel industries like electrical and mechanical engineering.  


Leaf developed an ongoing relationship with another accelerator that provided technical support and software mentoring. Seeking tangible expertise and broader contacts within the energy sector, Leaf turned to BRITE with hopes of breaking into the industry and expand its network. 

“As recent college grads, we wouldn’t be where we are today without BRITE. We’ve leaned on BRITE heavily to help us navigate the world of entrepreneurship.” 

BRITE’s innovation-first ecosystem has been crucial in establishing long-lasting connections for Leaf. Evan tells us, “No one else in the region is as well connected and willing to work through every step of the process.” The experienced mentors at BRITE have been key in helping Leaf to gear up for their pre-seed funding round, which is now well underway. As their product approaches market readiness, Leaf anticipates further introductions facilitated by BRITE, particularly in the engineering and energy industries. 


Department of Energy’s American-Made Solar Prizes 

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) and the Office of Technology Transitions (OTT) awarded Leaf over $175,000 in cash prizes and technical support vouchers through two American-Made contests. 

Pilots & Partnerships 

As a testament to the power of BRITEnetwork, Leaf established a connection with another BRITE member who is interested in piloting Leaf’s software solution, which presents a promising opportunity for Leaf to test and refine their product. 

Looking Forward 

Leaf was accepted into the University of Chicago’s prestigious Transform Accelerator, a 16-week program specifically designed to help a data science and AI companies hone their products for market. This program, alongside BRITE’s continued mentorship and guidance, will help Leaf prepare for their impending product release in the summer of 2024. In a recent Crains Cleveland article, Evan remarked:  

“If we sum up all the U.S. engineers in the design verticals and multiply their average salaries, we land at about a $10 billion spend in the U.S. every year on power infrastructure design and 40% of that we believe we can automate,” Haug told the audience. “We don’t have to capture very much of that $4 billion spend to be very profitable, let alone moving into the global industry, which is about ten times larger than in the U.S.” 

The implications of Leaf Automation’s technology are indeed far-reaching; they are positioned not only to generate significant revenue but also to create a paradigm shift in the energy infrastructure industry. This potential for disruption, coupled with Evan and his team’s grit and determination, is why BRITE is confident in Leaf’s capacity to scale their operations.  

For more information on Leaf, please visit

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