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Cleantech Open Judging: Winning Innovative Startups Are Breaking Boundaries

With the shifting focus toward new forms of energy and clean technologies, cleantech entrepreneurs are in a prime spot for getting their companies and innovations discovered. I was fortunate to see and hear what’s in store from these incredible companies when I recently returned as a judge for the western regional finals of the Cleantech Open in Oakland. These three remarkable companies are the regional winners and will go on to compete nationally at the Cleantech Open Global Forum:

  • CrossnoKaye: The company’s smart control systems use physics-based modeling to reduce energy use and costs.
  • Oasense: The startup’s sensor-enabled showerhead is intuitive as it stops water from flowing when users are soaping up.
  • Swirltex: This company’s membrane technology can improve filtration efficiency for wastewater treatment, food and beverage processing, and more.

Founded in 2005, this cleantech startup accelerator program brings top cleantech ideas to light on a nationwide scale, so it’s exciting to see what’s getting attention in the Western region. More than 1,200 early-stage cleantech entrepreneurs have made it through the program, and the CleanTech Open says most of them have survived the startup odds to raise $1.2 billion and create over 3,000 clean economy jobs. This year’s regional competition was as spirited as ever, with the companies’ focus ranging from artificial intelligence to high pressure water filters.

For my part, I greatly enjoyed being part of the two days of presentations and judging. I got to sit between two judges: a chemical engineering intellectual property attorney and a chemical engineer from Dow. The other judges were a mechanical engineer from Lawrence Livermore Labs and a process engineer. And I rounded out the judges panel with business expertise. My focus was in judging business models, ability to scale and business feasibility from working with hundreds of startups through the years among our RoseRyan client base. Helping companies think through their business viability and growth is essential for getting an innovative concept off the ground that can reduce waste, aid sustainability, perform efficiently and so on.

All of the companies presenting are attacking real problems, including:

  • Consumer adoption of cleantech
  • Environmental cleanup
  • Electronics efficiency and weight reduction
  • Resource reuse
  • Climate predictability
  • Efficient robotics
  • Fixing industrial issues

The company founders presented their stories with passion. Their ideas are clever, realistic and can be implemented fairly quickly. I was most impressed with artificial intelligence being used to better predict climate events as well as robotic tools being used to help prevent fires and fix industrial problems before they occur. These are the type of companies that exhibit the spirit of Silicon Valley—a contagious positivity and a winning “we can get it done” attitude.

They exude tremendous confidence that they can address problematic issues now and into the future. RoseRyan has supported many cleantech clients throughout our history with our full stack CFO solution (outsourced CFO, Controller and accounting teams that grow as they go), and it is good to know that this industry’s future looks bright! I extend my congratulations to the winners and the following companies that were also recognized as finalists: Radii Robotics, RePurpose Energy and Skycool Systems.

Chris Vane is a director at RoseRyan, where he leads business development for our finance and accounting consulting firm’s high tech and cleantech practices. He’s also a director at RoseRyan subsidiary Kukuza Associates, which focuses on fast-moving cannabis companies. Chris can be reached at cvane@roseryan.com, or call him at 510.456.3056 x169.