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Cleantech Open Names Six Innovative California Ventures To Compete for Top National Cleantech Startup

Finalists each win a valuable “Startup in a Box” prize of cash and services, and a shot at the $250,000 national grand prize in November at the Cleantech Open Global Forum.


REDWOOD CITY, California, October 16, 2012: The Cleantech Open (, the world’s largest cleantech accelerator, named six California startups to compete at the Cleantech Open Global Forum for $250,000 and the title of 2012 Top Cleantech Entrepreneur.

The Cleantech Open is a nonprofit organization that fosters the most promising startups in clean-technology fields through a nine-month program that includes education, relationship building and funding opportunities. The nationwide program began in March with 356 of the most promising entrepreneurs in the cleantech field competing for local honors and a shot at part of the overall $1-million purse for the national winners.

In addition to the monetary award, a broad cross-section of corporations, educational institutions, industry experts and successful entrepreneurs participate in the Cleantech Open’s signature accelerator and mentoring program, as well as the intensive curriculum at the Cleantech Open National Academy. 

101 startups were whittled down to 6 regional finalists

This year, 101 teams of cleantech innovators entered the Western Region competition, one of seven regions that constitute the Cleantech Open’s national accelerator program. In June, a panel of industry experts selected 60 Western Region teams to compete, of which 39 were selected as semifinalists. Last Friday, these teams pitched their business concepts to a panel of investors and industry leaders, who selected six teams as finalists.

“We believe that the key innovations to address the world’s needs for sustainable energy, transportation, building technologies and air and water quality will be invented by startups. We’re working across the major metropolitan areas throughout California and Nevada to ensure that wherever those innovations originate, we can help foster their success,” said Erik Steeb, director of the Cleantech Open Western Region. “All the companies that made it to this point have already made great advances in their businesses, connecting to investors, partners and markets. We’re extremely proud to promote these six companies to represent the Western Region and wish our finalists every success as they head to the Cleantech Open Global Forum in San Jose, next month.”

This year, the final judging for the Western Region took place in Dublin, California and was hosted by Chevron. Teams, mentors and judges heard from local business leaders, including Puneet Verma, manager of technology ventures at Chevron; Dale Kaye, president and CEO of the Livermore Valley Chamber of Commerce; and Tim Sbranti, mayor of Dublin.

“Global energy demand is estimated to grow 40 percent by 2035,” said Puneet Verma, manager at Chevron Technology Ventures. “The innovation showcased at the Cleantech Open has the potential to help Chevron meet this demand by advancing improvements in production, efficiency and sustainability.”

The six most promising cleantech entrepreneurs by category for the Western Region Cleantech Open Accelerator and Competition are:

Air, Water and Waste. This category covers technologies that focus on improving resource availability, conservation and pollution control. Skip To Renew of San Rafael, California, won with its high-quality, renewable, non-toxic and biodegradable industrial lubricants made from sustainably sourced plant and algae oils. www.skiptorenew 

Energy Efficiency. This category includes technologies that can significantly reduce wasted energy (including natural gas), driving toward the common goal of saving the equivalent of “a power plant a year” (or “NegaWatts”). Hive Lighting of Los Angeles, California, won with its high-intensity, energy-efficient lighting solutions for film, TV & digital media production. 

Green Building. This category focuses on reducing the environmental impact of building construction or operation through improved design or construction practices, new or innovative use of building materials, or new hardware or software applications. Binishells of Beverly Hills, California, won with its faster, stronger, greener and more affordable building technologies.

Renewable Energy. This category includes innovations that use, enable and accelerate the migration to renewable energy. Renewables encompass technologies that use waste streams to directly produce energy. Malachite Technologies of San Francisco, California, won with its processes and hardware that will allow silicon solar cell producers to upgrade their lines to produce silicon/III-V tandem cells.

Transportation. This category encompasses transportation and mobile technology applications that improve fuel efficiency, reduce air pollution, reduce oil consumption or reduce vehicle travel — it is not limited to automobiles. Rotary Wing Engine of San Jose, California, won with its ultra-efficient internal combustion engine technology. 

In addition to the five regional category finalists, PanelShake of Campbell, California won the Regional Sustainability Award, an honor given to the team that most effectively incorporated a triple-bottom-line approach to scaling its business. PanelShake has pioneered a new roofing material that uses recycled plastic and agricultural waste. 

“Making it through the Cleantech Open program to the finals is a huge accomplishment that history suggests makes them companies to be watched,” said Rex Northen, executive director of the Cleantech Open. “The final showdown for these entrepreneurs takes place on November 8 at the 2012 Cleantech Open Global Forum, where they’ll each put their training and innovations on the line for a chance to win the $250,000 grand prize and impress an audience of investors and influential industry leaders.”

Western Region finalists win a “Startup in a Box” package that includes cash and donated services worth up to $20,000. Finalists from all seven Cleantech Open regions (Mid-Atlantic, North-Central, Northeast, Northwest, Rocky Mountain, South-Central, and Western) will convene on November 8 at the Hayes Mansion in San Jose, California at the Cleantech Open 2012 Global Forum to compete for the top startup title and $250,000 grand prize.

The Cleantech Open runs the world’s largest cleantech accelerator. We provide entrepreneurs and technologists the resources needed to launch successful cleantech companies. Our mission is to find, fund and foster entrepreneurs with big ideas that address today’s most urgent energy, environmental and economic challenges. The 581 alumni companies of the Cleantech Open’s accelerator programs have raised more than $660 million in external capital. Learn more at and follow us on and @cleantechopen.

The Cleantech Open is made possible by the generous support provided by our Global Partner, Chevron; National Education Partner, University of Phoenix; and National Sponsor, Wells Fargo. Regional competitions are additionally sponsored by the following corporate partners: Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, Deloitte, Google, The Dow Chemical Company, Faegre Baker Daniels, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Walmart, Patton Boggs, Commercial Energy, Mintz Levin, PG&E, Reed Smith, and many others.