Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition to Award More than $1 Million

Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition is an inter­na­tional busi­ness plan com­pe­ti­tion that targets mid-to-late-stage busi­ness start-ups with poten­tial to gen­er­ate an imme­di­ate impact on Michigan’s econ­omy, as well as stu­dent con­cepts with longer-term busi­ness viability.  The grand prize in this competition is $500,000 with other prizes to be awarded.

Complete eligibility and application information is available on the competition website.  Applications are due August 8, 2012.

Cleantech Open Launches 2012 Competition; Deadline is May 8

Clean Tech Open

The Cleantech Open Accelerator and Competition is now accepting applications its 2012 program. This business plan competition has awarded more than $5 million in cash and services to support cleantech startups since 2006.

Startups can submit entries in these categories - Air/Water/Waste, Energy Efficiency, Green Building, Renewable Energy, Smart Power/Green Grid/Energy Storage, and Transportation.  The deadline to enter the 2012 competition is May 8th.

There will also be a National Launch Party on March 23rd at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California.  For more information:

Cleantech Open Announces Winners in California, North Central, and Rocky Mountain Regions

Clean Tech OpenThe Clean Tech Open (CTO), a business plan competition that will provide more than $1 million in prizes for early-stage clean technology startups, recently announced the finalists for its 2011 competition in three of its regional competitions. The finalists are listed below by region.  You can also view a list of all semifinalists here.

These regional finalist teams received a “Startup in a Box” prize package that includes combined cash and in-kind services worth up to $20,000.  They will now be competing at the national competition, which will be awarding a grand prize of $250,000 in investment and services on November 16, 2011 as part of the Cleantech Open 2011 Global Forum

California Region
Six category winners and Regional Sustainability Award winner:

  • Air, Water and Waste. This category covers technologies that handle anything from air purification to water filtration to new recycling methods. Kiverdi (San Francisco, CA) won with its high-yield gas-consuming microbes that turn waste gas into oil-based products.
  • Energy Efficiency. This category deals with anything that saves Watts, or deals in “nega-Watts.” LoadIQ (Reno, NV) won with its energy-management software that determines how energy is used in buildings, and itemizes energy bills to help ratepayers reduce costs.
  • Green Building. This category includes technologies that enable commercial and residential buildings to be built and function in a sustainable manner. EnFocus Engineering (Sunnyvale, CA) won with its enhanced zero-carbon light that energizes buildings with sunlight.
  • Renewable Energy. This category includes energy solutions derived from the sun, wind, geothermal sources, ocean waves, and more. B2U Solar (San Jose, CA) won with its innovative non-imaging concentrator collector that uses the sun to heat fluids, without the need for mechanical tracking or direct sunlight.
  • Smart Power. This category includes technologies that encompass the smart grid, energy control, and battery storage. ECO Catalytics (Davis, CA) won with a process to develop a catalyst material deposition process that reduces fuel-cell platinum costs by 95 percent.
  • Transportation. This category includes covers anything that deals with new fuels or new forms/methods of transport. Gridtest Systems (Calabasas, CA) won with electric-vehicle infrastructure test tools that provide automated testing of EV charging stations.
  • May-Ruben Technologies (Minden, NV) won the Regional Sustainability Award, an honor given to the team that most effectively incorporated a triple-bottom-line approach to scaling its business. The company has developed a thermally driven heat pump that can increase the energy efficiency of industrial processes such as process heating and cooling, drying, evaporation and distillation.

North Central Region

  • Regional Finalist: Atmosphere Recovery
    Gas analysis/control systems enabling sustainable manufacturing and renewable energy conversion.
  • Regional Finalist: FORTECO
    Sustainable, lightweight composite framing materials for commercial buildings that saves costs.
  • Regional Finalist: Whole Trees Structures
    Green building systems from abundant forest waste and a competitive option to steel and concrete.
  • Sustainability Winner: Sheerwind (Invelox)
    Safe, silent, low-cost and high-efficiency wind power generation technologies.

Rocky Mountain Region

  • Arbsource
    Phoenix-based ARBSource is on a mission to transform wastewater treatment from a costly liability into a valuable resource. Breweries, confectioners, and many other food and beverage processors are burdened with large electricity expenses to manage their wastewater, often totaling six figures per year. For half the cost, we can offer these companies identical treatment speed and quality with our patent-pending and licensed ARBCell biotechnology.
  • GeoTree Technologies
    Lafayette, Colo.-based GeoTree manufactures high performance materials for rehabilitation of infrastructure such as pipes and roads. Using biomimicry, nanotechnology and systems design, the firm has created “green” specialized geopolymer-based solutions.
  • US e-Chromic
    Boulder-based US e-Chromic LLC uses an electric field to change the tint of a window, allowing users to control the transparency based on the time of day, temperature, or exposure to sunlight. Today, the current supply of electrochromic windows turn darker in color when activated, consequently absorbing heat. In contrast, the technology being developed by US e-Chromic LLC reflects sunlight, keeping buildings cooler. They can be retrofitted to existing windows, potentially reducing cooling costs by 25 – 30 percent for commercial buildings during air conditioning months. 
  • Dragonfly
    Dragonfily, the regional sustainability winner, is a Utah custom manufacturer of patent-pending systems that improve the efficiency of electrical systems in homes and businesses.

Unreasonable Institute Investor Pitch Event is July 18 (Discount Available)

Unreasonable Institute

On July 18, the Unreasonable Institute, a Boulder, Colorado-based startup accelerator, will be bringing 26 entrepreneurs (from 17 countries) to San Francisco for a Pitch Day (and Night).  The Unreasonable Institute takes its name from a George Bernard Shaw quotation that states that "all progress depends on the Unreasonable man [andwoman]."

The presenting entrepreneurs include:

  • An MIT researcher from India with an anemia detection device recognized by the World Health Organization as one of the 7 most innovative emerging healthcare technologies.
  • An entrepreneur who is helping build the recycling infrastructure in Mexico and who has generated $1 million in revenue in the past 18 months.

You can view the complete list of presenting entrepreneurs here.  Thanks to our friends at the Unreasonable Institute, readers of Green VC can obtain a 30% discount on registration to attend the Pitch program.  To obtain this discount use code "secretdiscount" (without the quotes) when registering online.

April 11 is Application Deadline for 2011 Sustainable Brands Innovation Open Competition


April 11 is the application deadline for the third annual Sustainable Brands Innovation Open (SBIO) start-up competition.  Applications are being sought from innovative, socially-conscious entrepreneurs with either a consumer product or B2B solution that helps companies achieve their goals towards creating more sustainable brands.  There are two categories for entrants: 

  • Idea Stage – for self or family-funded entities with a solid business plan and limited operational experience
  • Early Stage – for companies currently operating with less than $1 million in outside capital. 

The SBIO is part of the Sustainable Brands 2011 conference and ten start-ups will be selected to display and pitch during the conference to attendees, as well as a group of green/social investors, executives from leading companies, top brand consultants, and peers.

"SBIO supports innovation and fosters collaboration between early stage eco-entrepreneurs and executives from some of the most influential brands in the industry, as well as socially responsible investors who can help take their ideas to the next level," said KoAnn Vikoren Skrzyniarz, CEO of Sustainable Life Media.  "The SBIO gives ten emerging companies a platform to showcase their early stage company and build a network of supporters that can accelerate their route to market."

Application information for the SBIO is available here.

Clean Tech Open Announces 2010 Finalists in All Regions

Clean Tech OpenThe Clean Tech Open (CTO), a business plan competition that will provide more than $1 million in prizes for early-stage clean technology startups, recently announced the finalists for its 2010 competition. The finalists, by regional competition, are listed below.  You can also view a list of the semifinalists here.

These finalist teams will now be competing at the national competition, which will be awarding a grand prize of $250,000 in investment and services on November 17, 2010. 

California Region

  • FogBusters, Inc. – Revolutionary technology for removing fat, oil and grease (FOG) from wastewater
  • Suntulit – Smart, multi-zone HVAC system enhancement for homeowners with central forced-air systems
  • Stramit Strawboard – Converts low-cost agricultural waste into high-value building board
  • Pure Solar – Laser-processing tool to produce an industry-standard c-Si wafer to increase efficiency for photo-voltaic cell manufacturers
  • SmartSense - Real-time fault detection, fault prediction and performance monitoring for electrical grids
  • Pressure Sentinel – Automatic tire inflation system that eliminates the problem of underinflated truck tires

North Central Region

  • EarthClean – Creator of a biodegradable, non-toxic fire suppressant system that can be used in existing firefighting equipment
  • Graphene Solutions, Inc. – Technologies that increase the practical application of nanomaterials in coatings, composites and energy generation and storage
  • Silicon Solar Solutions - Improves energy output and lower cost of silicon-based solar power cells.

North East Region

  • OnChip Power – Bringing integration to power electronics
  • 7Solar – Energy Independence, one building at a time
  • V Squared Wind – Wind technology

Pacific Northwest Region

  • Arcimoto – Builder of a fun and cost-effective electric vehicle for the around-town drives that typify most vehicle use
  • Nanocel Inc. – Revolutionizing the cooling of electronic devices with its microfluidic polymer cooling system that can cool specific areas that generate the heat
  • Puralytics – Maker of unique water purification devices that remove all types of pollutants in a single step without using chemicals or producing waste water

Rocky Mountain Region

  • infiniRel – Assures renewable energy service providers of maximum equipment uptime at the lowest service cost through predictive data analysis and maintenance scheduling support
  • INOTEC – Distributes electrons to microbes in a manner that provides them with energy to more efficiently transform and remove contaminants found in waste and drinking waters
  • pureSilicon – Addresses growing electrical use by computer servers

Cleantech Open Announces Winners of North Central Regional Competition

Clean Tech OpenThe Cleantech Open, a business plan competition that will provide more than $1 million in prizes for early-stage clean technology startups, recently announced the winners of its North Central regional competition (which includes Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin).

The winning teams were:

These teams will receive a "Startup in a Box" prize package of cash and in-kind services valued at up to $30,000.  They will also be proceeding to the Cleantech Open national competition, which will award a grand prize of $250,000 in investment and services on November 17, 2010.

In addition, NewWater, based in Minneapolis, won the region's sustainability award, an honor given to the team that most effectively incorporated a triple bottom line approach to scaling their business.

"We were delighted to have more than 50 entries in this year's first North Central region competition – which was second only to the California region," said Justin Kaster, the regional director for the North Central region and an investment banker with Twin Cities-based Cherry Tree Companies. "While each entry was innovative and inventive, our four winners represent the best in cutting-edge clean technology and renewable solutions. With world-class training and extensive one-on-one mentoring, our winners now have the comprehensive tools to showcase their business. We're thrilled to see such success in the competition's first year in this region and believe the tremendous strides all our participant companies made will help our region lead in this emerging industry."

$10 Million Progressive Automotive X PRIZE Shared by Three Teams

Progressive Automotive X PRIZEThe Progressive Automotive X PRIZE, an international competition launched in 2008 with a $10 million prize purse designed to inspire a new generation of viable, super fuel-efficient vehicles, recently announced its winners (video at the end of this post).  They are:

$5 Million Mainstream Class Winner:
Edison2 “Very Light Car #98” (Charlottesville, VA)
Economy: 102.5 MPGe
Fuel: E85 ethanol
Boasting the lowest drag coefficient of any car with four wheels tested in the GM wind tunnel and at the Chrysler Proving Grounds, this vehicle demonstrated over 100 MPGe on the test track, and verified in the lab, under stringent testing conditions using a highly innovative small displacement engine. Its low weight of just 830 pounds is a tribute to its use of light weight materials, reduced engine displacement and a host of other weight-saving innovations.

$2.5 Million Alternative Side-by-Side Class Winner:
Li-ion Motors Corp “Wave II” (Mooresville, NC)
Economy: 187 MPGe
Fuel: Battery Electric
This side-by-side two-seat battery electric car was built on a lightweight aluminum chassis and weighs in at only 2,176 pounds, despite the weight of its powerful lithium ion batteries. The Wave II demonstrated outstanding low mechanical and aerodynamic drag that resulted in 187 MPGe in combined on-track and laboratory efficiency testing, a 14.7s zero-to-60 mph acceleration time, and over 100 miles range over a real-world driving cycle.

$2.5 Million Alternative Tandem Class Winner:
X-Tracer Team Switzerland “E-Tracer #79” (Winterthur, Switzerland)
Economy: 205.3 MPGe
Fuel: Battery Electric
This tandem two-seat vehicle combines the best of motorcycles and automobiles. This clever design has two extra outrigger wheels that deploy at low speed to stabilize the vehicle. At 1436 pounds, the E-Tracer is able to deliver over 100 miles in range, led the competition with over 200 MPGe in combined on-track and laboratory fuel efficiency and achieved a zero-to- 60 mph acceleration time of just 6.6 seconds.

“We’ve seen a shift in the market since we first launched this competition, and a greater awareness by people everywhere to think more seriously about the actions we take, and how they affect our environment,” noted Peter Diamandis, Chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation. “Gas mileage ranks as one of our top concerns when purchasing a new vehicle and I believe strongly that the innovations showcased throughout the life of this competition will continue to impact and improve our car buying options for the future.”

“Congratulations to the winners and to all the teams who competed over the course of this competition. Their innovations and hard work are truly inspirational,” said Glenn Renwick. “We’re extremely proud to support a competition that will result in more super fuel-efficient vehicle choices; choices that will make people’s lives better.”

There will now be opportunities for winners and other competitors to move forward with their inventions. Under a U.S. Department of Energy-funded technical assistance program, qualified Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE competitors will obtain funding support for access to key automotive expertise and test facilities to assist them in readying their vehicles and technologies for market introduction.

A video of the awards ceremony follows below.

Companies Selected as “Technology Pioneers 2011” in Energy and Environment by World Economic Forum

World Economic Forum Technology Pioneers On September 1st, the World Economic Forum (WEF) announced the 31 companies selected as Technology Pioneers 2011.  These companies were selected as the most innovative start-ups from around the world that will have a critical impact on the future of business and society.  Previous winners include Google (2001), Gridpoint (2008), Nanosolar (2007), Recyclebank (2009), and Silver Spring Networks (2008).

"The World Economic Forum is proud to recognize an outstanding group of innovative companies as Technology Pioneers for 2011,” said André Schneider, Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer of the World Economic Forum. “Their technologies and business models will have a durable and valuable effect in several industries and society as a whole. We look forward to their unique contributions to the mission of the Forum: improving the state of the world.”

The companies selected as Technology Pioneers 2011 are in the areas of Energy and Environment are:

  • Digital Lumens (USA)
  • Ecovative Design (USA)
  • Ferrate Treatment Technologies (USA)
  • Flexoresearch Group (Thailand)
  • Novacem (United Kingdom)
  • On-Ramp Wireless (USA)
  • Ostara Nutrient Recovery Technologies (Canada)
  • Quintas Renewable Energy Solutions (Nigeria)
  • TaKaDu (Israel)
  • Tendril (USA)
  • Topell Energy (Netherlands)
  • Transonic Combustion (USA)

For more information

$200 Million “ecomagination Challenge: Powering the Grid” Competition Announced by GE, Emerald Technology Ventures, Foundation Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and RockPort Capital

Earlier this month GE announced the ecomagination Challenge. This is a $200 million innovation competition launched in partnership with Emerald Technology Ventures, Foundation Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, RockPort Capital, and Chris Anderson (Editor-in-Chief, Wired).

The ecomagination Challenge seeks breakthrough ideas to create a smarter, cleaner, more efficient electric grid, and accelerate the adoption of more efficient grid technologies.  Proposals are sought in three categories — Renewables, Grid and Eco Homes/Eco Buildings. This competition is open from now until September 30, 2010 to anyone aged 18 years or older and all legally formed entities.  Entries may be submitted via the ecomagination Challenge website

Selected entrants will be offered the opportunity to develop a commercial relationship with GE through:

  • Investment: The $200 million capital pledge of GE and its partners will be invested globally into promising start-ups and ideas
  • Validation: Evaluate entrant’s business strategy through in-depth discussions with GE’s technical and commercial teams
  • Distribution: Explore partnership opportunities with GE to scale a business and create global reach
  • Development: Leverage GE‘s technical infrastructure and GE Global Research Centers to accelerate technology and product development
  • Growth: Explore opportunities for utilizing existing GE customer to take Challenge products to market

In addition, five entrants will receive a $100,000 “innovation challenge award” acknowledging their entry as an example of outstanding entrepreneurship and innovation.

“Innovation is the engine of the global effort to transform the way we create, connect and use power,” said GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt. “At GE we have invested broadly and deeply in digital energy solutions and see this as a substantial market for us, but we can’t do it alone. We want to work with our partners to make sure we have a comprehensive digital energy offering. This challenge is about collaboration and we are inviting others to help accelerate progress in creating a cleaner, more efficient and economically viable grid. We want to jump-start new ideas and deploy them on a scale that will modernize the electrical grid around the world.”

GE CMO Beth Comstock said, “We took on a challenge when we launched ecomagination five years ago and we have learned about the power of partnerships to deliver clean energy solutions today. The challenge announced today is about collaboration and harnessing the promise of fledgling ideas and businesses to transform our energy future. We are confident in people’s willingness to change the way the world uses energy and in the ideas that will make this possible.”

“The Smart Grid is a new platform and a new market that is just beginning to be explored. Great ideas on how to do this can come from anywhere, so this competition is designed to tap the widest possible range of innovators, from big companies to entrepreneurs to students,” said Chris Anderson, who is serving as an advisor on the Challenge. 

“Modernization of global electricity transmission and distribution systems have simply not kept pace with our society’s growing demand for clean and highly reliable power,” said Gina Domanig, Managing Partner of Emerald Technology Ventures. “Smart Grid innovation has been a significant area of investment focus for Emerald over the past decade and we are pleased to be a partner in the GE ecomagination Challenge.”

Foundation Capital General Partner Paul Koontz said, “Global power grids make up the largest networks in the world. In most cases, the technology on which they are based is essentially 100 years old. The opportunity to reinvent how energy is produced, distributed and consumed is extraordinarily large and is critical in the battle against climate change. We’re pleased to support GE’s initiative to engage the entrepreneurial community, and the powerful innovation engine it represents, in this effort.”

“Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers is committed to a sustainable energy environment and are working to reduce the world’s dependency on fossil fuel-based energy through our growing portfolio of innovative Greentech companies,” said Ray Lane, Managing Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. We believe the Smart Grid is the information technology backbone that will enable faster scaling of energy innovations. Kleiner Perkins is proud to be a part of the GE ecomagination Challenge, and we are committed to working closely with GE and other investor partners to help commercialize the best Smart Grid innovations.”

RockPort Capital General Partner Chuck McDermott said, “The electric power grid is the central nervous system of the global economy. Though today’s grid is a 20th century engineering marvel, the smart grid of tomorrow promises to revolutionize how we manage our homes, offices and factories and to maximize the use of next-generation clean energy resources. Through this challenge, we will match the best ideas and best entrepreneurs with GE’s commitment to innovation, unparalleled technical knowledge and its deep penetration into the most vital areas of the world’s energy infrastructure. Working together we can transform yesterday’s grid into a 21st century marvel.”

A video of the formal announcement of the ecomagination Challenge follows below.