Thursday, May 17, 2007

California Clean Tech Open

The 2007 California Clean Tech Open (CCTO) was officially kicked off at San Francisco City Hall, Tuesday, May 15th with a host of luminaries present. For those who are not aware of the event, this is the second year of the event. The first event last year was the brainchild of the MIT Club of Northern California's Renewable Energy and CleanTech Series. For a description of last year's events you can find the report at the CCTO website. The event is a business plan competition for clean technology. All it takes to enter is a 3 page executive summary by June 30th and a small entry fee. Prizes are awared in six categories with prize sponsors ranging from AMD, Google, Lexus, PG&E, SDG&E, SCE and ENVIRONFoundation.

The kickoff event itself was quite interesting. An impressive lineup of speakers and a panel discussion was all contained in a hour and half with a great networking reception. For a complete list of speakers see the link above. The panel discussion, very ably moderated by Kerry Dolan of Forbes, gave an opportunity for senior executives from the sponsors, SDG&E, SCE, ENVIRON Corporation, PG&E, Google, AMD and Lexus to talk about their initiatives in Clean Technology.

Brad Barton from the US Department of Energy spoke of the strong interest and initiatives in alternative energy programs at the DOE. Bob Cart, CEO of GreenVolts who won the Renewables Prize in 2006 described how they entered the CCTO with a summary and ended up with a complete business plan, funding and support. The company has since raised $1.5M in VC funding. Matt Caspari, CEO of Aurora Biofuels who won Transportation Prize first runner up did even better with $5M in VC funding. Raj Atluru, Managing Director at Draper Fisher Jurvetson gave a VC perspective of interest in clean technology. He talked of the tremendous growth of interest in clean technology funding among VCs. His particular focus was on technologies improving efficiencies of clean energy generation.

The closing speech by John Garamendi, Lt. Governor of California was frank and stirring. He pointed out that the innovation spurred by the CCTO and entreprenuers in California solved only part of the problem. Without serious policy changes to address global warming, these innovations would not address the whole host of problems generated. Some of these issues, where a few inches of increase of sea level would salinate major sources of fresh water supply in California, or where the rise in temperatures could lead to tropical parasites and diseases could not be fully addressed by these innovations. So he exhorted the public to push for major policy changes to address the larger issue.

The networking reception which followed was very good. Many of last year's winners were present to discuss their companies and technology. I had an interetsing discussion with Dave Culp, President of KiteShip which provides wind power assist for ships. He was part of the America's Cup design team in 2003. It will be interesting to see who the winners are for 2007. I am tempted to write up a 3 page summary by June 30th. Now all I need is a good clean tech idea :-)


© 2007, 2008 Madan Venugopal    All rights reserved.