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Cleantech Open Winner Revealed! EcoFactor Takes the Grand Prize

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For the entrepreneurs competing to win the $250,000 grand prize package in the Cleantech Open business plan competition — and join the ranks of past winners like Adura Technologies — the wait is over. Tonight in San Francisco, the organization announced finalists from each region (listed below the break). But the big kahuna goes to smart thermostat software developer EcoFactor.

The 3-year-old startup, which beat out runners up MicroMidas (working on bioplastics) and Alphabet Energy (working on waste-heat recovery), has developed a service based on smart algorithms (read all about it here) that can continuously manage a home’s connected thermostat throughout the day, tweaking the settings ever so slightly to shave off energy consumption, but maintain a comfortable temperature.

Of course, the race to win this prize is over, but the rest of the climb toward a sustainable, profitable business lies ahead. When we spoke with EcoFactor earlier this month, the angel-funded company was in negotiations for its Series A round, and the company’s Senior VP of Products, Scott Hublou told us tonight that those talks are ongoing with several venture firms. He’s hopeful the grand prize will help smooth the way for that financing. “At the end of the day,” he said, the benefit of this type of competition is to “help you get to your next funding event.” As Marc Gottschalk, co-chair of the competition, said to venture capitalists and investors in the audience tonight: “These teams could always use more love.”

Pacific Northwest

  • Green Lite Motors: Three-wheeled vehicles for commuters in large cities. “Easy to maneuver and drive, fun to drive as a race car.”
  • Hydrovolts: A hydrokinetic turbine that floats in man-made water channels and can power 1-10 homes along a canal. Hydrovolts claims the system pays for itself in less than five years. Additional applications might include mines and wastewater treatment plants.
  • LivinGreen Materials: High efficiency photo electrode for a next-gen solar cell. Fifty to 100 percent more efficient than traditional photo-electrodes.

Rocky Mountain

  • New Sky Energy: Carbon negative manufacturing company. Scrub CO2 out of the air or flue gas and incorporates it into consumer products — they contain a lot more CO2 than they produce in their manufacturing. Just landed a big customer. Growth has been extraordinary in the last 6 months.
  • Rivertop Renewables: Makes chemicals, including gluceric acid, from plant sugars.
  • SunTrac Solar: Hot water solar panels.

California (split into six categories because it’s the largest regional contest — more details on the category finalists here)

  • MicroMidas (Air, Water & Waste Category): Biodegradable plastic for use in various consumer products, including shopping bags, utensils.
  • tru2earth (Green Building Category): Shingles made from recycled PET plastic bottles meant to compete directly against asphalt shingles.
  • EcoFactor (Smart Power Category): Home energy management.
  • FuelSaver Technologies (Transportation Category): Attachments that streamline trucks while they’re in motion to reduce wind resistance.
  • Alphabet Energy (Energy Efficiency Category): Recover waste heat at well under $1 per watt in industries such as heavy manufacturing, automotive, aerospace and power generation.
  • Armageddon Energy (Renewable Energy Category): Modular, easy to install “solar clovers.”