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Cleantech Open North Central Region Showcases Top 20 Startups at Innovation Expo & Awards

Nationwide accelerator program celebrates the best of the best from the Midwest’s latest class of cleantech entrepreneurs.

Minneapolis – October 3, 2012: The North Central region of the Cleantech Open will hold its 2012 Innovation Expo & Awards event in Minneapolis on Thursday, October 18, highlighting entrepreneurial trends across the Midwest. Since 2006, the Cleantech Open, a 501(c)(3) non-profit and the world’s largest cleantech accelerator, has been working to find, fund and foster the most promising cleantech startups on the planet. To date, 581 Cleantech Open alumni companies across the U.S. have raised more than $660 million in external funding and created thousands of jobs.

Over the last four months, a new group of 20 regional startups has worked closely with the North Central region of the program, honing their business models through in-person and virtual training programs with mentors like Steve Blank, and connecting with investors from across the country. These companies will be featured at this month’s regional showcase and at the national Cleantech Open Global Forum “Academy Awards of Cleantech” on November 8-9. Four of them will be chosen during the awards ceremony on October 18, to compete for the National Grand Prize of a “startup-in-a-box,” valued at $250,000.

This year’s regional startup class reflects low-cost trends in the cleantech industry at large and addresses environmental and agricultural challenges long associated with the Midwest.There’s currently a misconception that cleantech ventures are inherently cost intensive. In fact, the cleantech industry includes a tremendous diversity of business models, product technologies and capital requirements,” said Justin Kaster, Co-Founder and Director of the North Central Region of Cleantech Open, headquartered in the CoCo Minneapolis collaborative working space in downtown Minneapolis.

“For instance, the cost of hardware and web services has declined dramatically in recent years, opening up opportunities for increased monitoring and analytics. Several of our startups are leveraging these capabilities to improve energy efficiency in everything from buildings to agricultural processes,” Kaster added. Other trends include small-scale solar power applications, the conversion of organic waste into valuable agricultural products, and the emergence of “meta” cleantech companies focused on enhancing the industry itself. The 2012 North Central region companies are:

Barasa Wheaton, IL

Patented process for converting industrial organic waste into topsoil.

BioPetrol Ltd. Lino Lakes, MN

Synthetic oil production from municipal sewage sludge and other biosolids.


Dioxide Materials  Champaign, IL

Low cost CO2 sensors for monitoring building occupancy and adjusting energy usage.

IrriGreen Eden Prairie, MN

Landscape irrigation systems that cut installation time in half and water use by 50% through digital technology.

Material Mix Saint Louis, MO

Online exchange for the trade and recycling of industrial byproducts.

Real Time Ag La Motte, IA

Monitoring software to improve farming efficiency and reduce runoff.


Cocoa Chicago, IL

High-quality humus fertilizer reduces cost to farmers and pollution.


QuadROI Minneapolis, MN

Definitive source for cleantech financial data.


Comfort 3.0 Chicago, IL

Online tool for customizing home thermostat settings for comfort and savings.


LandMentor Golden Valley, MN

Software for designing sustainable communities.


Concept Catapult Indianapolis, IN

Internet crowdsourcing platform for cleantech startups.


Grainvalue Saint Paul, MN

Selective separation of corn grain to maximize utility and economic use.


Heatwave Solar Edina, MN

Manufacture of solar air-heating units that reduce dependency on fossil fuels.


Peppermint Energy Sioux Falls, SD

Personal solar power in a box.


Piezo PowerTech Detroit, MI

Wireless thermostat with predictive web analytics for existing HVAC.


SiNode Chicago, IL 

Superior anode Technology for Li-ion Battery.


Switch Fargo, ND

Cost-effective, cloud-based platform for home energy use monitoring.


Direct Drive Energy Lowden, IA

Energy conservation and cost savings for idling trucks.


HEVT Chicago, IL

Advanced electric motor technologies.


JPODs, Inc. Saint Paul, MN

Solar-powered urban transportation networks.


The 2012 North Central Innovation Expo & Awards event also will showcase sponsor companies and partners, as well as regional alumni start-ups, such as last year’s national Grand Prize winner, Atmosphere Recovery of Eden Prairie, MN. An invite-only segment will bring together venture, angel and corporate representatives from across the Midwest representing approximately $2 billion in active capital, and the evening will conclude with an awards program recognizing the top four startups and the People’s Choice award for the company with the best on-stage pitch.

The Expo & Awards will be held throughout the day in the Aria at the Jeune Lune Event Center. Attendance is open to the public and is expected to eclipse last year’s participation of several hundred people from across the region. Media passes are available here.

About The Cleantech Open 

The Cleantech Open runs the world’s largest cleantech accelerator. Our mission is to find, fund and foster entrepreneurs with big ideas that address today’s most urgent energy, environmental and economic challenges. The North Central Cleantech Open regional program was founded in 2010 to provide entrepreneurs and technologists across the Midwest with the resources needed to launch successful companies. Learn more at - YouTube - Facebook - LinkedIn - Twitter: @cleantechopenNC.

The Cleantech Open is made possible by generous support from our Global Partner, Chevron; National Education Partner, University of Phoenix; and National Sponsor, Wells Fargo. The North Central Region Accelerator Program is additionally sponsored by the following partners: Chevron, University of Phoenix, Wells Fargo, Faegre Baker Daniels, The Dow Chemical Company, Deloitte, Autodesk, Clise Billion Cyr, Gopher Angels, True North Venture Partners, AMEC, Andcor, Cleantech Communications, Sage Presence and others.


Media contact:

Bart King, Cleantech Communications