Cleantech Open Announces 2009 Winners

The Cleantech Open, the world’s largest business competition created to find, fund and foster startup clean technology companies, announced the winners of this year’s competition at the annual Cleantech Open Expo and Awards Gala at the Masonic Center in San Francisco.

Dubbed the “Academy Awards of Clean Technology,” the event marks the grand finale of the Cleantech Open's yearlong business competition. This year, at the Cleantech Open’s biggest event ever, thousands of people representing the nascent cleantech industry —contestants, alumni teams from previous years, mentors, venture capitalists and budding cleantech entrepreneurs — convened to showcase the best in cleantech innovation from national and international teams.

Selected from the 12 finalists of the Cleantech Open business plan competition, the National Prize was awarded to EcoFactor. A finalist in the Cleantech Open California regional competition, EcoFactor entered in the smart power category, with a personalized residential energy management solution for heating, ventilation and air conditioning. The grand prize is valued at $250,000, including $100,000 of seed capital, and was presented by vice president and managing executive of venture capital Trond Unneland at Chevron Technology Ventures. Separately, Chevron announced it was joining the Cleantech Open’s roster of corporate partners as inaugural Global Partner for the 2010 Cleantech Open business competition.

“We're thrilled to be named the national winner of the Cleantech Open, especially considering the high caliber of cleantech companies we were up against,” said Scott Hublou, senior vide president of products and co-founder of EcoFactor. “It's a great honor to win an award in which we were evaluated and judged by our peers and people whose feedback and opinions we value.”

“This award is as much about the strength of our whole team as it is about the important work we're doing. Being named the Cleantech Open national winner really validates our solution and our business model, and proves that the market is looking for energy-efficiency solutions that don't ask people to change their behavior or sacrifice comfort,” said John Steinberg, chief executive officer and co-founder of EcoFactor. “This award will help us further advance our mission of providing personalized residential energy management solutions, because we believe consumers shouldn't have to choose between savings, comfort and convenience.”

The judges also nominated two runners-up for the National Prize: Alphabet Energy (waste-heat recapture); and MicroMidas (transforms raw sewage into biodegradable plastic). Alphabet Energy was voted the People’s Choice business competition winner.

Each year, the Cleantech Open leadership team identifies an alumni company that has made significant progress during the year. This year, the Alumni award went to Adura Technologies, which manufactures and sells lighting and energy management controls that are easy to install and use. In a recent two-week test with PG&E, Adura managed to reduce light load by 72 percent.

Sustainability of technologies and ideas of the teams that enter the Cleantech Open are given additional scrutiny by the mentors and judges, and each team receives specific sustainability mentoring. This year’s National Sustainability award of $20,000 goes to HydroVolts, whose innovative in-stream hydrokinetic turbine enables distributed clean-energy generation from canals, waterways, spillways, rivers, streams, and tidal currents around the world.

For the first time, cleantech innovations from around the world were featured at the Cleantech Open. The Global Cleantech Open Ideas Competition looks to find "big ideas" by working at a grassroots level and to support and foster those ideas. Orchestrated in conjunction with the Kauffman Foundation, startups from around the world competed for a prize worth $100,000 in startup services. Entries were received from Brazil, China, Denmark, Israel, Italy, New Zealand, and the USA. Audience members voted Replenish Energy of Puerto Rico the winner of the Global Cleantech Open Ideas competition. Micro-algae are the world’s most efficient renewable energy source currently available: it can deliver 48,000 kilowatts of electricity per million dollars capital invested; this compares to 470kW for solar panels and 1,300kW for wind turbines.

“We wish this year’s winners every success — their collective innovation and spirit of entrepreneurship will spur crucial advances to address the energy, environmental and economic challenges that we face,” said Rex Northen, executive director of the Cleantech Open. “While this marks the completion of our annual competition, it is only the beginning for this year’s semifinalists. As Cleantech Open alumni, we will continue to help them successfully commercialize their cleantech ideas and create jobs.”

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