Conference Highlights Upcoming Focus on Cleantech
The National Cleantech Open Conference took place in San Jose last week, headlined by the Under Secretary of Energy, Dr. Kristina Johnson. Dr. Johnson 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 conference also served as the launch of the Global Cleantech Open Ideas Competition as an official activity of Global Entrepreneurship Week. The competition aims to foster and highlight cleantech “big ideas” from forward-thinking entrepreneurs around the world, and to accelerate the discovery and development of groundbreaking cleantech solutions by working at a grassroots level.
“A new popularity within the startup culture is attracting inventive minds from around the world to the challenges of meeting our energy needs in a sustainable fashion while enabling them to not just do good, but do well,” stated Ortmans. “The Ideas Competition is a perfect vehicle to engage aspiring entrepreneurs and tap into that passion.”
The Ideas Competition is being run in 19 countries by GEW Hosts: Barbados, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chile, China, Congo, Denmark, France, Ireland, Kenya, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Paraguay, Singapore, Spain, United States and Zambia. National winners will represent their country at the Awards Gala in San Francisco, California on November 17 — during Global Entrepreneurship Week. Finalists’ ideas will be presented in a five-minute pitch in front of a crowd of 2,500 investors, entrepreneurs, sponsoring companies, corporations, members of academia, press, and others. The crowd will vote via text message for the “People’s Choice” worth $100,000 in marketing support, legal advising, conferencing services and more to turn the idea into a business.
GRANT FROM KAUFFMAN FOUNDATION ANNOUNCED
The Cleantech Open also announced a grant from the Kauffman Foundation in support of its efforts.
“We have been working closely with the Kauffman Foundation for two years now, and are delighted to have their support,” said Northen. “The Cleantech Open is the largest organization of our kind anywhere in the world, and our partnership with Kauffman will help us increase both our reach and our impact as we work together to accelerate cleantech entrepreneurship.”
The grant supports an expansion of the Cleantech Open, an organization that provides education, business planning and mentoring of early-stage cleantech entrepreneurs.
“This emerging industry is essential to creating new jobs and boosting the economy,” said Lesa Mitchell, vice president of Advancing Innovation at the Kauffman Foundation. “The Cleantech Open has established itself as a leader in supporting clean-technology startup entrepreneurs who are addressing challenges to starting companies in this industry.”
The support of the Cleantech Open furthers Kauffman’s commitment to accelerating innovations in the cleantech sector. In March of this year, the Foundation launched the Energy Innovation Network, which provides links to technologies, entrepreneurs, finance, buyers and policymakers to make the pathway for energy entrepreneurs more transparent. The Foundation also is partnering with the federal government, businesses and nonprofits to hold regional energy innovation meetings over the summer and early fall to support energy entrepreneurs and high-growth energy businesses.