Cleantech Startup Competition Announces Winners


What better way to find up-and-coming cleantech startups than to follow a business plan competition for just-out-of-the-lab companies with little funding. Tonight, the California Cleantech Open announced six winners in the categories of “Air,Water and Waste,” “Energy Efficiency,” “Green Building,” “Renewables,” “Smart Power,” and “Transportation.” We feel confident that the winners are an innovative bunch, as they were picked by a sizable group of industry insiders that included venture capitalists, scientists, entrepreneurs, angel investors and attorneys. (And we also wrote about quite a few of the winners over the past couple of months.)

As Tim Woodward, managing director of Nth Power, put it eloquently in a speech before the winners were announced, when it comes to climate change, “…we face a remarkable challenge, and without constant innovation we wont achieve [our goals]…We’ve never seen this level of enthusiasm and quality for people building game-changing energy technologies.” The winners can also be enthusiastic about their $50,000 cash prizes, plus $50,000 in services like office space, and legal and PR help.

So here you go, cleantech’s future heavyweights:

  • Smart Power: Lucid Design Group. The Oakland, Calif.-based startup was founded in 2004 out of research at Oberlin College, and sells a software and sensor service that monitors the real-time use of electricity, natural gas and water. Check out our previous coverage of the company.
  • Energy Efficiency: Nila Lighting Systems. The 3-year-old startup makes LED lighting modules for the entertainment industry, and is self-funded by Hollywood techie Jim Sanfilippo. The Los Angeles, Calif.-based company says if everyone in the film and television industries used Nila lighting systems, it would be like switching off two coal-fired power plants. Check out our previous coverage here.
  • Renewables: 1-Solar. Now that solar photovoltaics are getting cheaper and more efficient, solar innovation is picking up in the peripherals. 1-Solar designs a solar inverter (converts to AC for household appliances to use) that weighs less than 20 lbs, and lasts for 15 years or more.
  • Green Building: BuildFast. The San Carlos, Calif.-based startup makes a house-in-a-box kit for governments and nonprofits to build low-income and post disaster relief housing. The kits cost $7,500 for a 484-square-foot house, with an extra $1,500 for plumbing and electricity.
  • Transportation: Syncromatics. Getting more people to ride buses and making bus routes more efficient are both positive eco-effects of Syncromatics. The company’s technology creates bus-tracking systems using GPS and cellular location technology.
  • Air, Water, & Waste: Microvi Biotech. The Overland Park, Kan.-based start makes biotechnology-based decontaminant solutions for groundwater, wastewater, and drinking water. We chatted with the company earlier this year and they said the pollutant-destroyer has no waste stream or sludge.


Scott Boutwell

Now the challenge is building awareness and sales via established channels….probably not efficient to build direct sales forces, but to leverage the environmental consulting and engineering & construction community.


Neat post, lots of cool startups. It seems like greentech innovation is still alive and well!

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