Monday, November 5, 2007

California Clean Tech Open Awards 2007

Its a bit late to be writing about the California Clean Tech Awards ceremony which was held at the Palace of Fine Arts on Monday, Oct 29th at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. But, better late than never. I had a vested interest in attending this event, since Ed Gunther of Gunther Portfolio and I had submitted an entry under the Smart Power category. We wanted to check out the teams which won. I must say I was impressed with the winning teams. The full list of winners and finalists can be found on the CCTO website. Lucid Design Group won in the Smart Power category and Federspiel Controls were runners up. Lucid had a web based environmental performance monitoring system for buildings and individuals aimed at energy conservation. Federspiel controls entered a wireless control system for HVAC systems.

There were six categories - Smart Power, Air Water and Waste, Green building, Renewables, Transportation and Energy efficiency. Each of the winners got $50,ooo in cash and $50,000 in services from the sponsors. The awards in each of the categories were handed out by the respective sponsors.

There was an impressive list of speakers from the US DOE, California Energy Commission, NRDC and Nth Power (a Clean Tech VC). Dave Rodgers from the US DOE stole a march by inviting the winners to Washington DC (at the DOE's expense) to present their entries before the DOE for potential sponsorship. I was also impressed by the winners acceptance speeches. They had honed their pitching skills during the summer with the CCTO's series of events preparing the finalist teams to refine their business plans for the final submission. This was one of the main attractions for us when we entered the event. The results of the process were impressive. Each of the winners were able to articulate their value proposition succinctly. From years of experience I have learnt that this is a very valuable skill to have when pitching to VCs.:-) You have them in the first few minutes or you don't :-)

From that perspective all of the finalists for the CCTO were winners. They have gained valuable insight into the process of taking their companies to the next step. The awards event also had a showcase for the finalists. The companies represented were impressive and I am sure many of these will make it even without the CCTO prizes. There was strong VC representation in the audience. The networking opportunity was great. Met Google's energy Czar, Bill Weihl who handed out the Google green building prize. Nice title to have :-) Met several folks from the MIT Clean Tech Entrepreneurship series who were volunteering to put on the CCTO. The number of volunteers for the event was impressive - well over 350. Shows the level of interest in clean technology. If some of the companies participating in the CCTO succeed, they will serve to put California in a leadership position in the clean energy movement. Even without the CCTO prizes these companies are also likely to attract much VC interest. In fact, I ran into at least one VC looking for a good clean tech opportunity and was able to introduce one of the finalists to an energy company representative. My little contribution to the clean tech crusade :-)

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