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Cleantech Open Expands to North Central Region; Now Accepting Entries From Clean Technology Companies

Entrepreneurs spanning from Kansas to Minnesota will compete for $250,000 in investment and services

Minneapolis – March 30, 2010 – For the first time in its five-year history, Cleantech Open – the world’s largest business competition created to find, fund and foster the most promising clean technology companies – is now accepting entries from the North Central Region. Early-stage startups in Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin can enter in six categories – renewable energy, transportation, smart power and energy storage, energy efficiency, green building and air/water/waste – for a chance to win $250,000 in investment and services.

Debuting in 2010, the North Central Region will be focused on connecting cleantech entrepreneurs in the seven-state area with mentoring and training, venture capital and funding opportunities, resources from private and public innovation centers, and experts from sponsor organizations.

"Expanding Cleantech Open into this region was a natural move, given the amount of businesses, entrepreneurs and public officials in these states who are focused on clean technology," said Justin Kaster, regional director, Cleantech Open North Central Region.

Entries for the competition are due by May 22, 2010. All entrants will receive feedback on their executive summary and discounted rates to all North Central events. Semifinalists will participate in the national Cleantech Open Academy in California, as well as business clinics in the local region. The three regional finalists will receive a mix of cash and in-kind services worth $30,000 and compete for the grand prize of an additional $250,000 of investment and services.

Sponsored by partners from venture capital firms, corporations, foundations, universities, state and federal agencies, and public utilities, Cleantech Open is a global leader in early-stage cleantech startup training and support programs.

"We believe that solutions to the most critical energy, environmental and the economic challenges facing the U.S. will come from the creativity, dedication and passion of entrepreneurs and inventors," said Rex Northen, Cleantech Open national executive director. "As we continue to expand, we are able to offer regional innovators a faster path to commercialization by entering the competition, and to introduce new sponsors to the compelling benefits afforded by supporting the organization."

The North Central Cleantech Open regional organizers are actively recruiting volunteers to assist as mentors and judges, as well as participants on organizing committees responsible for the planning of local events and workshops, partnership management, judging, contestant recruitment, sponsor development and sustainability.

For more information, or to enter the competition, visit www.cleantechopen.com or e-mail nc_info@cleantechopen.com.

About Cleantech Open Cleantech Open is a catalyst for cleantech innovation. A nonprofit organization founded in 2006, it provides today’s cleantech innovators with the tools, training and connections they need to become tomorrow’s viable cleantech businesses. The core of Cleantech Open is an annual national business competition, supported by expert volunteers and mentors, that provides entrepreneurs with the crucial business training, services and insights they need to successfully go to market. Cleantech Open, in combination with MIT's Ignite Clean Energy/Cleantech Open Northeast, has assisted companies in raising over $240 million in funding and has over 400 alumni companies. Fueled by a network of more than 700 volunteers and sponsors, Cleantech Open unites the public and private sectors in a shared vision for making America’s cleantech sector a thriving economic engine. Past alumni successes include Adura Technologies, Cool Earth Solar, EcoFactor and GreenVolts.

North Central Cleantech Open sponsors include Chevron (national sponsor), U.S. Department of Energy, Faegre & Benson, Padilla Speer Beardsley and Piper Jaffray.

For more information, visit www.cleantechopen.com or email at nc_info@cleantechopen.com. Follow @cleantechopen on Twitter.