Cleantech Open offers startups access to cash
By Matthew Kish
Mark Owen, CEO of Puralytics, said the Cleantech Open brought his company national and international visibility. (Click to hear from other Cleantech Open participants.)
Cold-calling venture capitalists is pointless. Even for those with solid business plans and strong management, dialing Bay Area financiers out of the blue is less productive than buying lottery tickets.
That’s where the Cleantech Open comes in, says Hiroshi Morihara, CEO of Gresham-based HM3 Energy Inc.
Now in its fourth year in the Pacific Northwest, the competition is a way for emerging green businesses to win cash and professional services. Its goal is to “find, fund and foster” the next generation of sustainable businesses.
While the seven-year-old volunteer-run competition doesn’t have statistics to show whether it’s lived up to its ambition, Morihara and other winners say the competition has been an invaluable part of launching thier companies. It’s allowed otherwise unknown entrepreneurs to attract the attention of venture capitalists and business partners around the world.
The competition is divided into regions.
Of the roughly 50 companies that will likely apply in the Pacific Northwest region this year, a dozen will be selected as semi-finalists. Those companies will attend a weekend business accelerator class in July in California. They’ll also get mentors and attend various business clinics.
Three companies from the Pacific Northwest will then be selected as finalists in October and compete against winners from other regions in the national competition this fall.
Each regional winner will get $20,000 in cash. The national winner will get $250,000. There are also cash prizes in various categories. About $1 million, all raised from sponsors, is up for grabs.
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