The Cleantech Open aims to help people with great ideas and little experience get funding to make those ideas into realities.
Winning ideas in the past have included several solar energy technologies and new applications for solar.
“This is just the first phase,” said Cleantech spokesman Tim Cox. “We’re trying to get as many teams as possible of cleantech innovators to apply.”
Applications are due May 1. And then a panel selects semifinalists to go on to the next phase.
Those semifinalists are assigned a mentor who helps them prepare a business plan.
“They’re given a lot of training, and they’re exposed to all the right people to teach them about accounting or human resources or chain of supply management—whatever is most relevant to their business concept,” Cox said.
The semifinalists also get to attend the Cleantech Academy.
“It’s like a business boot camp,” Cox said. “They’re given the skills they need to be able to stand in front of someone and give a presentation to get funding.”
There are business and venture capitalists and angel investors out there who are looking for good ideas and innovative new technologies where they can invest their money, Cox said.
The Cleantech Open aims to bring those people with the money together with the idea people who need it.
“Everyone involved in this is a volunteer,” Cox said.
Even he is volunteering his skills as a public relations expert. He got involved when a friend asked if he would help some of these startups get a handle on their public outreach campaigns.
“All of the people, the 3,000-plus volunteers who are involved, are just really committed to seeing clean technology succeed,” Cox said.
The contest has major financial backing from Wells Fargo Bank and Chevron among others, he said. And it’s part of a larger network of global cleantech accelerator programs.
Some of the ideas that have succeeded in the past have been major scientific breakthroughs, others have been wildly simple, Cox said.
“We just want to see new ideas succeed,” he said.
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