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Twenty-one cleantech startups from across the U.S. competed for a grand prize of $250,000 in seed investment and services at this year’s Cleantech Open Business Competition. On Wednesday night, the not-for-profit organization awarded the national grand prize to the winner in the renewable energy category, Atmosphere Recovery, which makes laser-based gas analyzer systems for efficient manufacturing and advanced energy process control. Those looking to invest in cleantech would be wise to check out the grand prize finalists and category winners, listed below.
As Dan Reicher, the executive director at the Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance at Stanford University, told the gathered audience, tens of trillions of dollars are going to be spent on energy infrastructure in the next few decades, and we need to have strong policy and finance to support a sustainable-energy future. He went on to say that startups need help bridging the technology valley of death, the gap between having a functional demo and being operational on a commercial scale, which sometimes takes decades to close.
Before announcing the grand prize, Jim Davis, the president of Chevron Energy Solutions, took a hopeful view and suggested that some of the event’s competitors were working on technologies that might have “the power to change the world.” And that although “developing these technologies to commercial scale remains a challenge, our collective challenge is to create solutions” that will meet the growing energy needs of the future — a future that in Davis’ projection includes 8.5 billion people who consume 40 percent more energy than we do today.
Here’s hoping that these entrepreneurs are on the right track.
Grand prize finalists (and category winners):
Air-water-waste: PK Clean, which converts landfill plastics into hydrocarbon fuels through a catalytic depolymerization process.
Energy efficiency: Indow Windows, which manufactures thermal window inserts that press into place on the inside of a window frame to deliver double-pane window performance at a fraction of the price. The startup also took home the sustainability award.
Green building: Whole Trees Structures, which manufactures structural building systems made from round timber, the waste product of sustainably managed forests.
Smart power: GridMobility, whose Color of the Electron™ signal technology enables business, industry and consumers to choose electricity sources based on their personal preferences.
Overall winners for each of the six competing regions — California, Northeast, North Central, Pacific Northwest, Rocky Mountain and South Central—were also named.
California: b2u Solar, which makes solar heat systems.
Northeast: Arctic Sand, which manufactures power converter chips designed to reduce the amount of electricity used by data centers.
North Central: FortEco Lightweight Structures, which creates lightweight composite framing systems utilizing light gauge steel, insulation decking and concrete.
Pacific Northwest: Indow Windows, which makes window inserts that turn windows into efficient double-pane windows for cheap.
Rocky Mountain: Veritek Coal Processing, which uses a technology process to extract mercury, sulfur, heavy metals and other impurities from precombustion coal.
South Central: cycleWood Solutions, which makes biodegradable and compostable thermoplastic that can be used in a variety of commercial plastics, including cups, plates and bags.
Global ideas prize finalists
Biofiltro (winner), Chile, waste water treatment.
Biométhodes, France, “integrated biotechnology, renewable chemistry, and energy.”
Black Silicon Solar, Denmark, nanotechnology to increase the absorption of light in silicon solar cells.
Cambridge Nanotherm, UK thermal management for LED lighting systems.
ReformTech, Sweden, “strives to professionalize the catalytic heater and mobile/stationary hydrogen reformation market through best practice development and collaborative business system.”
Resolute Marine Energy, U.S., wave-driven power solutions.