Congratulations to all our Western Region Semi-finalists! After their hard work in our accelerator program, it was time to showcase their innovations and celebrate with fellow startups at our 2015 Western Region Awards and Innovation Showcase.
With two packed rooms of cleantech enthusiasts, the Innovation Showcase gave an opportunity to see the fantastic array of cleantech ideas created by this year's startup teams. Thanks are also due to the alumni entrepreneurs who showcased their innovations; Pool Response, Max OutRenewables and Rethink Green.
- How can you skim oil spills from our rivers without the use of harmful chemicals – Creative Green Ideas has the solution.
- Want to fly a drone around obstacles and avoid no-fly zones – Nevada Dynamics has it under control.
- Need to organize group travel in the most efficient way – hop on board with AllAboard.
- And want to help African countries power their homes and farms – Novaya Solar has a bright solution.
Think Green, Think Fremont!
In the Grand Ballroom, Mayor of Fremont, Bill Harrison kicked off the Awards celebration with a speech on his own cleantech innovation, the City of Fremont. The city has worked tirelessly over the last few years to transform themselves into one of the greenest cities in the country. And that has helped attract some of the best cleantech companies to the city such as Tesla and Solar City. Next, Eric Cummings, a serial entrepreneur in solar inventions, spoke of the challenge of being 'taken out of his comfort zone' by the Cleantech Open accelerator program.
Our first keynote, Dan Shugar of Nextracker has made it his business to make the biggest and most cost effective solar power plants. The results are astonishing with two mega-sized plants in Chile with a total capacity of 142MW! Next, our Partner Chair Greg Delaune moderated a panel on the path to commercialization for startups. Eric Steeb from LACIncubator talked of the 'pipeline' through research, acceleration and incubation provided by our partnerships with LACIncubator, ProspectSV and GSVlabs.
Our first group of awards paid tribute to the volunteers who are the vital lifeblood of our Cleantech Open organization:
- Bruce Witney (Volunteer of the Year)
- John West and Carl Sandberg (Mentors of the Year)
Power to the People (and the Pope)
After lunch, our second keynote, Nancy Floyd is somewhat of a rarity nowadays, the founder of a venture capital investment firm, Nth Power, who concentrates on the energy industry. She believes that the next phase of cleantech investment is all about the power of the consumer. And for-sees a revitalization of the cleantech industry through Obama's Clean Power Plan and the far-reaching impact of the Pope's outspoken views on climate change.
Next, Ian Foraker, our Western Division Executive Director announced the winners of our six judging tracks: Vertical Earth Gardens, Nano Hydrophobics, Persistent Efficiency, Novaya Solar, Pre-Framing and AllAboard.
Each of the winners gave a two-minute pitch to explain their product and try to win the hearts of the audience for the People's Choice Award. A fascinating insight into the breadth of cleantech innovations this year: from the tiny stick-on smart meter of Persistent Efficiency to the pre-assembled wooden housing frames of Pre-Framing.
And the Winners are!
After a coffee-break, the results were in and three of the major awards were announced:
- Persistent Efficiency (People's Choice Award)
- OpCondys Inc (Rising Star Award)
- Nano Hydrophobics (Sustainability Award)
After a day of celebration and innovation, it was finally time to announce the Final Four teams who will represent the Western Region at the Global Forum this November. Four of our fabulous sponsors presented the awards: Leigh Thompson (Dow), Sachlene Singh (Autodesk), Chun-cheng Piao (Daikin) and Tony Cannestra (Denso).
And the winners are:
- Nano Hydrophobics – nanotech to increase efficiency of heat exchanges
- Persistent Efficiency – a tiny smart electricity meter that collects big data
- Pre-Framing – pre-packaged solution for building housing frames
- Vertical Earth Gardens – fool-proof way to grow local produce
The Final Four certainly represent a wide cross-section of cleantech innovations. We wish them well at the Global Forum. But let's not forget all our Semi-finalist teams who have made this year a fascinating and rewarding experience for all at the Cleantech Open. We hope to see you at the Global Forum, pitching your great ideas and connecting with investors. Good luck everyone!
By Jane Richards on in Western