The search to "find, fund and foster" entrepreneurs with big ideas in cleantech kicked off last week in the North Central region: the 2011
The second annual business competition is a year-long program through which budding companies receive mentorship and training from local experts and gain exposure to investors. Participants compete in six cleantech categories: renewable energy, transportation, smart power and energy storage, energy efficiency, green building, and air/water/waste.
There are prizes for the regional winners, including the chance to compete in the national Cleantech Open for more than $250,000 in cash and services. The North Central region covers Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Illinois, new to the region for the 2011 competition.
Last year, the North Central region contestants outnumbered all other regions but California, with more than 30 collaborations and 200 contributing professionals.
All four 2010 semi-finalists received funding, notes Justin Kaster, Cleantech Open North Central regional director. They included Minnesota startups New Water and EarthClean Corporation, whose innovative and environmentally responsible fire suppression earned them the 2010 Minnesota Cup title, as well.
The competition helps "drive innovation, create jobs, foster early-stage investment, and teach a more sustainable way of doing business," says Kaster in a press release.
Entries for the Cleantech Open are now being accepted online
, and the North Central region is recruiting professional volunteers to assist as mentors, judges, and program committee members.
Source: Cleantech Open
Writer: Jeremy Stratton