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Energy Efficiency Startups Clear First Hurdle in Cleantech Open 2011

The Cleantech Open announced that 163 semifinalist teams have been selected from across the United States to participate in the cleantech business competition. 35 of the companies will advance in the Energy Efficiency category; 15 are competing in the Green Building category.

The semifinalists were selected from a pool of 285 cleantech entrepreneurs from across the country that submitted entries in the seven regional competitions run by the Cleantech Open.

2011 Cleantech Open Regional Semifinalists list here.

The Cleantech Open owes its beginnings to the Ignite Clean Energy, or "ICE" competition that originated at MIT in Cambridge, MA. ICE merged with the Cleantech Open to become the competition's Northeast Region. That region represents 36 of this year's 163 regional semifinalists. Today the Cleantech Open is based in California -- home to 56 regional semifinalists.

Entrants select a category in which to compete, such as "Renewable Energy" (42 semifinalists), "Energy Efficiency" (35) and "Green Building" (15). Regions and categories are somewhat fuzzy -- a California-based builder is a semifinalist in the Pacific Northwest Cleantech Open; a paper-saving printing-related software company is advancing in the Energy Efficiency category.

The semifinalists will now compete regionally for prizes comprised of cash and in-kind services. After an additional round of regional judging to be held in October, 2011, finalists will be selected to advance and represent their regions, competing at the national level for a grand prize of up to $250,000 in cash and in-kind services. National judging of regional finalists will take place November 10-13, 2011, at the Global Cleantech Forum in San Jose, California.

Over the next few months, each semifinalist team will receive coaching from the Cleantech Open's business mentors, one-on-one consulting and an intensive business boot camp at the Cleantech Open National Academy. Through this process each team must develop a comprehensive business plan and investor pitch that will be presented to professional investors and experts during the next round of judging.

Disclosure: The author is a volunteer marketing mentor for contestants in the Cleantech Open.