Last night was the CleanTech Open‘s gala evening; great food, super people, and some terrific companies selected for six $100K prizes (start-ups in a box). If the past is any indication, the winners and runners up are likely going to find their way into the line up of venture backed CleanTech companies.
There were a few keynote speakers, including San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and David Rodgers, the deputy assistant secretary of the DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Group. You might not agree with me that a night only needs one, if not a max of two key note speakers – but the best speaker of the night, was Steve Vassallo, a principal at Foundation Capital. He gave CleanTech entrepreneurs hope and guidance.
He reminded the audience that there are opportunities abound for innovation, and that a “crisis was a terrible thing to waste.” Despite the economic climate that has frightened some potential investors and would be entrepreneurs from action, projected energy needs of another 14 TWs of energy between now and 2050. The environment won’t allow us to continue to address this demand through coal and fossil fuels and therein lies our greatest engineering challenge – to curb demand growth and replace our energy supply with clean energy. He reminded them to keep their focus while opponents pulled back to gain market share and sharpen their business acumen; and called the room to action recounting Margret Mead “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
He called on entrepreneurs to focus on capital efficient demand side technologies that would bring value to their clients immediately – by allowing them to be “leaner and meaner” which means generating noticeable operational efficiency and real business value for customers within 12 months. It follows with everything else we’ve discussed in the last few days on this blog. CleanTech investment has a place for Venture Investments, I just think it is in keeping with Steve’s guidance.
Here is the list of the CleanTech Open finalists and winners:
Air, Water & Waste Prize Winner, Sponsored by Grundfos
Over the Moon Diapers
Air, Water & Waste Runner Up
Energy Efficiency Prize Winner, Sponsored by PG&E, SCE and SDG&E
Energy Efficiency Runner Up
Green Building Prize Winner, Sponsored by Argonne National Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Green Building Runners Up
Renewables Prize Winner, Sponsored by Google, PG&E and SCE
Focal Point Energy
Renewables Runner Up
Renewable Fuel Technologies
Smart Power Prize Winner, Sponsored by AMD and Siemens TTB
Smart Power Runner Up
Transportation Prize Winner, Sponsored by Lexus
Transportation Runner Up
Alumni Award Winner, Sponsored by CalCEF
Alumni Runner Up