What do you get when you bring together some of the world’s most innovative engineers, creators and problem solvers with a mission to make the world a better place? You get Cleantech Open’s annual "Global Forum,” an inspiring, sometimes mind-boggling competition that serves as the culmination of the organization’s mentorship and accelerator program. This year’s event is set for Jan. 29 at the La Kretz Innovation Campus in DTLA.
Cleantech Open has been finding, fostering and funding tech entrepreneurs with out-of-the-box ideas to solve the planet’s greatest environmental and energy challenges since its inception in 2005.
“Our entrepreneurs are very engineering and tech savvy but are not necessarily business savvy and our goal is to help them be successful,” said Executive Director Ken Hayes. By teaching these talented engineers how to operate a business, Cleantech Open aims to level the playing field in the sector. Through the accelerator program, entrepreneurs learn how to create a business model, identify competitors, build a team, and understand the need for partnerships. They are also matched with mentors that fit their particular needs. Once participants have completed the program, they have the opportunity to compete in regional “shark tank” style competitions within their local Cleantech Open chapters, found in six regions around the country, with finalists moving on to the Global Forum. International applicants also can apply through the “Global Ideas” program. Expanding their reach geographically is one way Cleantech Open works to dispel the notion that successful and innovative startups can only be found in Silicon Valley.
More than 100 startups championing cleantech— defined as environmental and sustainable technologies—will be showcasing their inventions on the “convention” floor in the areas of energy use, agriculture, water, transportation and smart cities. Eleven finalists will pitch their ideas to attendees and compete for the grand prize.
Last year’s Global Forum winner, Inovues, was awarded $50K to use toward an innovative way to upgrade windows in commercial buildings that significantly improves insulation and energy efficiency. If only 20 percent of single-pane buildings implemented their invention, the environmental impact would be the equivalent of taking two million cars off the road each year. Inovues also received exposure to private and government investors in addition to the prize money.
Cleantech Open became a fiscally sponsored project of Community Partners in 2018 and given our shared passion for the entrepreneurial spirit and mission-driven projects, the relationship is particularly synergistic.
“An added benefit of joining Community Partners is the opportunity to connect with the other 181 projects and the communities they serve,” Hayes noted. “So many of the worst impacts of poor environmental policies or technologies affect underserved communities. I’m hoping we’ll get to know those programs so that we can work together to improve the quality of life in all neighborhoods.”
To learn more about Cleantech Open and their upcoming Global Forum, click here for tickets. If you are a project of Community Partners and are interested in attending, contact your program liaison.
Interested in learning more about Cleantech Open’s entrepreneurs and their tech? Follow #CTOAlumniSuccess on Twitter to view past cohorts and where they are now.