Early-stage tech competition invests in innovation

Clean Tech Open gears up to find the next green energy innovation The Clean Tech Open may sound like a golf tournament, but it’s actually a tremendous opportunity for early-stage renewable and green energy technology to take root and find funding and investors.

The event, created in 2006, invites innovators in the solar, wind, geothermal and all kinds of clean energy sectors to showcase their work and vie for an opportunity to be coached through the labyrinth of investment, development and commercialization opportunities and pitfalls.

Applications are due May 24. Registration is $150 per commercial team and $100 per student team, said Nancy Bahamonds in registration.

“The purpose of the Clean Tech Open is to find applicants that have very, very promising inventions in the early stages and teach them how to pitch to venture capital and angel investors,” Bahamonds said.

She said semifinalists in each of the competition’s seven regions get intensive coaching from experienced mentors, typically professors and entrepreneurs in the field. They learn how to effectively present their innovations and products, and then quarter finalists are selected in October, Bahamonds said.

A winner emerges in November and gets $250,000 in cash and in-kind support services from the Open partners.

Puralytics of Beaverton, Ore., won last year for its photochemical water purification system. Audience members voted through text messages for peoples’ choice winner Silicon Solar Solutions, which created a large-grain silicon solar cell that required less material to generate more energy.

The Clean Tech Open program has successfully brought along early-stage technologies, Bahamonds said. More than 85 percent of the innovators who have been through the program since its inception still have viable products going through the development stages, Bahamonds said.

“We find them. We foster them, and we see that they get funding,” she said of the program.

The program has been growing since its inception with more and more early-stage projects coming up for consideration each year. Some of the volunteers who help with the program, which is run largely by volunteers, teach at the country’s most esteemed institutions. That quality mentoring and education is what helps to make these young technologies thrive.

“It’s so great to see these companies going from just a little idea to a viable business,” Bahamonds said.

Pictured: Puralytics CEO Mark Owen, courtesy of Sustainable Business Oregon.