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Blog Archive: July 2010

First National Cleantech Open Conference a Huge Success

Posted by Katie Payer at 10:05 AM, 07/24/2010

The first annual National Cleantech Open Conference saw 46 speakers, three keynote addresses, six panel sessions and more than 600 attendees.

Thursday, July 22, 2010, saw the arrival of Under Secretary of Energy, Dr. Kristina Johnson, at the DoubleTree Hotel in San Jose.  Following some opening remarks by Cleantech Open Executive Director, Rex Northen, Dr. Johnson addressed the crowd of entrepreneurs, media, business professionals and cleantech investors.  She spoke of the importance of innovation within the cleantech industry, and announced a Department of Energy grant of $122 million over five years to scientists working to mimic plant photosynthesis.  The captivated crowd applauded this important announcement.  Read more here.

Two morning panels were led by Marc Gottschalk of Proterra, who led a discussion on the future of the transportation industry, and Susan Preston of CalCEF Clean Energy Fund, who facilitated a discussion on the importance of building a more cohesive grid, and what it will take to achieve the goal.

conference panel

The luncheon keynote, Jonathan Ortmans, represented the Kauffman Foundation and Global Entrepreneurship Week.  The Cleantech Open and the Kauffman Foundation officially launched the second annual Global Cleantech Open Ideas Competition, with entries due by October 15.  Find more details and enter here:

The afternoon sessions saw a policy discussion regarding solar and the growth of other renewable energy sources, while in the other panel Allan DeLorme of Environ led a lively discussion of the current state of water, who deserve the right to it, and how much water should cost.  Two other lively panels dealt with how to build out urban areas in a green fashion, and what’s stopping energy efficiency from ramping up.

The afternoon culminated in a keynote from Ron Gonen, founder of RecycleBank, who told his story of entrepreneurship and challenges he faced.

panel attendees

Throughout the day, Conference attendees visited almost 100 exhibitor booths to see the growth of the Cleantech Open Alumni companies, and check out the 2010 semifinalist companies’ technologies.  Sponsor companies, Chevron, Kauffman Foundation, Autodesk, Faegre & Benson, Reed Smith, Citi and more also answered questions about their partnerships with the Cleantech Open.

The extraordinary day ended with a lively reception of wine and hors d’oeuvres.  Many thanks to those who made the entire event possible, including our sponsors, all the incredible volunteers, and Helen Lambert, our Operations Manager.  And of course, thanks to all the attendees for making the event such a huge success.

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2010 Cleantech Open Academy: Day 2 Highlights

Posted by Katie Payer at 12:45 PM, 07/26/2010

The Cleantech Open National Academy continued full speed ahead on Day 2 with a series of interactive lectures and workshops covering financial modeling, fundraising, capital structure and the investor pitch. The Academy was held at the Doubletree Hotel in San Jose from Friday, July 25 through Sunday, July 25, 2010.

Christina Ellwood, Cleantech Open Academy Chair, led the 2010 Semifinalist teams through the day’s proceedings, which started with a presentation and workshop by Peter Liu, founder of New Resource Bank, on the key elements of an investor-worthy financial model. Peter emphasized that investors value realistic projections that identify key risks and stressed the importance of sound forecasting of working capital needs.

Keynote speaker, Trond Unneland of Chevron Technology Ventures, followed with a presentation on corporate venture capital. When approaching a corporate investor, Trond advised start-ups to demonstrate their strategic fit in the company’s core business. Greg McAdoo of Sequoia Capital closed out the morning session with a crash course in fundraising by explaining sources of funding, the investment process and how to get an introduction to investors.

Herb Fockler of WSGR began the afternoon session with a detailed look at the capital structure of a VC funded company as it progresses through its lifecycle from founding to IPO. Herb continued with a seminar on the fundamentals of a term sheet. The day closed with an interactive lecture and workshop presented by Andrew Chung of Lightspeed Venture Partners on the fundamentals of an investor pitch and common content and delivery issues entrepreneurs should avoid.

Special thanks to the speakers, mentors and volunteers that make the Academy possible and to the day’s corporate sponsors, Citi and Faegre & Benson.


By Jeff Muir

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An Update from Cleantech Open Alumnus Crystal Clear Technologies

Posted by Katie Payer at 2:45 PM, 07/27/2010

Aiming to make a mark on opportunities in water purification, Crystal Clear Technologies offers a multi-faceted value proposition, leveraging the prize and publicity from their 2006 Cleantech Open win into successes today.   The goals of their mission statement “To develop and commercialize water purification technologies that the majority of the world’s population can afford” have the company aiming high and focusing its initial efforts to at the opportunity in water treatment in the developed world.

The nanotechnology filtration systems it produces provides value by removing heavy metals from water to single-digit parts per billion, satisfying 2015 EPA standards.  Furthermore, they can do so with a minimal power footprint without generating sludge, and layer the filtered metals into potentially reusable resources rather than shipping as waste (there are no currently defined reusable outlets for this material).  Thus, their patented technology is a cradle-to-cradle wastewater solution which promises considerable competitive advantage, as the system is highly absorptive compared to other products, capturing a wide span of metals from wastewater.

The company was founded in 2005 by Lisa Farmen, Jim Harris and Bart Mass in Menlo Park, California.  One problem facing the company in its early stages was to convince potential funding sources of the value that its technology provided, and that its business could prove successful.  “The Cleantech Open was a huge win for us.  We didn’t realize how big until we needed it, though a formal review of the business plan was hard work”.  In that way the competition provided “fabulous third-party validation” which enabled the company to approach other groups for funding in addition to Cleantech Open prize money and grants from the National Science Foundation.

At this juncture of its product development process, Crystal Clear’s next generation of material aims to decrease their costs by an order of magnitude making it more affordable to an increasing the number of those that have access to the technology.   As such the credibility of their Cleantech Open win could prove just as valuable for convincing potential customers of the value added by its products as it was in bringing funding into the company.   
According to Ms. Farmen, “The ongoing relationship with the Cleantech Open has provided more support and resources way past the win. The Cleantech Open does not eliminate you if there is no customer or investor signed within a stated period of time. … The Cleantech Open is a consortium that has the membership, vision and talent to push clean technologies from the minds of inventors, into full scale production.”

With such advantages, the company is well poised to capture the wastewater market that only looks to grow in the future.  As Lisa Farmen puts it,  “Water is a finite resource, but demand is not finite.  In the future, supply and demand economics will bear out fair market value of water.”  Such an approach can speak (and save) volumes.


Written by Jason Grillo

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