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A Good Cleantech Week in Oregon

Posted by at 2:45 PM, 08/16/2010

Recently John Martin, Pacific Northwest Operations Chair, went south to Oregon to learn what was happening there in cleantech. He found a lot going on. This is his report.

 Pacific Northwest Cleantech Open partner, Pivotal Investments, hosted a showcase of Oregon electric vehicle ventures on August 11 at the renowned Pizza Research Institute in Eugene, OR. The showcase, title "Pizza, Peers & Prototypes" included every wheel count and covered the span of I-5, from Portland's 1-wheeled Ryno to Ashland's 2-wheeled Brammo Empulse, to Eugene's 3-wheeled Arcimoto (2010 CTO semifinalist) and Portland's 3-wheeled Green Lite Motors (2009 CTO Region Finalist); to Ashland's 4-wheeled ATV by Barefoot Motors, along with component and software vendors and 2009 CTO semifinalist Shorepower Technologies and their EV charging kiosk. Attendees came from as far as Seattle in the north, to a delegation from the UK Trade & Investment office in San Francisco.

The event was the kickoff of the new Pivotal Leaders forum, a network of (initially) 32 driving-force individuals for cleantech in the Northwest. Pivotal partner John Miner described it as just the "tip of the iceberg" of innovators. Pivotal's goal is to "identify, recognize and call out those with the inclination, competence and capacity to lead a regional cleantech community. This was also why Pivotal chose to be one of the founding partners of the Pacific Northwest region of CTO..

Pivotal noted that they were making big bets on the innovative capacity of the Northwest for cleantech generally, and with the region being a national leader for adoption of hybrids and renewable energy, they are seeing significant deal flow targeting electric vehicles and infrastructure.

That vitality is reflected in our Pacific Northwest Cleantech Open which, in just two years, has matriculated seven alt-transportation ventures, including Green Lite Motors, Arcimoto and Shorepower; an electric scooter - Current Motor; a plasma-arc ignition system - Aquapulser; a shared-use bicycle for urban link applications - viaCycle; and two ride-sharing website services - Zebigo and Goose Networks. Goose participated in the California CTO a year before a regional division was established.

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A day earlier, on August 10 in Albany, OR, several members of the Cleantech Open community were among the audience when enerG2, Inc., a developer of energy storage for EVs, dedicated its new operations facility which will house high-capacity production for their breakthrough nano-material. enerG2 was founded in 2005, pre-Cleantech Open, but they are clearly a CTO kind of enterprise. Their materials are used in a class of storage devices called ultracapacitors, of which but one example is Pacific Northwest alumnus and current California CTO semifinalist, Extreme Capacitor.

The dedication ceremony included remarks by Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski and Senator Ron Wyden and hit a number of CTO talking points. Intel founder Andy Grove's recent Bloomberg editorial spoke of how even more than "start-ups" are "scale-ups." This new facility moves enerG2 to that scale-up phase which is also the prime goal of CTO's find-fund-foster mission. It demonstrates an encouraging regional approach to economic development, involving collaboration with manufacturing partner, Oregon Freeze Dry, Inc. (OFDI), whose process provides a step in enerG2's production. enerG2 has garnered $14.5 million in venture capital from sources including WRF Capital of Seattle, Yaletown Venture Partners of Vancouver, B.C., and regional CTO supporters OVP Venture Partners and Northwest Energy Angels as well as others. enerG2 is one of only two federal stimulus grant recipients nationwide under the category of "energy storage scale-ups."

Notably, at the Pivotal showcase in Eugene, mentioned above, 2009 semifinalist Shorepower Technologies reported that they had recently benefited from a $12 million federal stimulus grant to equip 50 truck stops across America with their Truck Stop Electrification (TSE) pedestals.


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Meanwhile, between the enerG2 and Pivotal events, the Corvallis-Benton Chamber Coalition (a Cleantech Open Competition Partner) held one of their unique community SWOT forums for 2010 semifinalist Columbia Power Technologies, an ocean wave-power generation company, which will be doing scale-up tests during the next year in both Puget Sound and the open Pacific through the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center (NNMREC), a partnership of Oregon State University and the University of Washington.

All in all, a good week for Cleantech Open contestants and partners in Oregon.


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