North Central Cleantech Open: Launches second annual competition

Top entrepreneurial companies from the Midwest win a chance to compete at the national awards in California

March 14, 2011: Minneapolis – This week marks the launch of the 2011 Cleantech Open North Central region ( business competition – part of the world’s largest cleantech business competition and entrepreneur incubator created to find, fund and foster tomorrow’s most promising clean technology companies.

Encompassing Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and (a new addition for 2011, Illinois), the North Central region had an extremely successful inaugural year in 2010.

Now in its second year, the North Central region Cleantech Open competition selects winning companies to compete in a national program that that now spans over 25 U.S. states and internationally. The competition provides entrepreneurs and small businesses with a platform to compete in six cleantech categories (renewable energy, transportation, smart power and energy storage, energy efficiency, green building and air/water/waste).

The year-long program provides companies with access to mentorship and training services provided by local experts, as well as exposure to regional investors. Winners receive regional prizes and an opportunity to compete for a national Grand Prize of $250,000 in investment and in-kind services.

In 2010, the North Central region attracted many promising cleantech contestants and outnumbered all other regions (with the exception of the founding region, California) in attracting participants. With more than 30 collaborative relationships with key regional partners and sponsors established in 2010 and more than 200 contributing professionals, North Central has an excellent foundation to build upon.

“With the success of the first year significantly exceeding our expectations, we are excited for 2011 and look forward to working with our valued sponsors, partners and professional volunteers to help drive innovation, create jobs, foster early-stage investment and teach a more sustainable way of doing business,” said Justin Kaster, regional director, Cleantech Open North Central. “We in middle-America have vast natural resources, excellent research institutions and many other foundational pieces to lead in this emerging space.”

Kaster, who is also an investment banker with Cherry Tree, LLC, pointed to the overall quality of participant companies from local geographies.

“Our 2010 semi-finalists ( were top quality. We are extremely proud of our four finalists from last year – EarthClean (, Xolve, (, Silicon Solar Solutions ( and New Water ( – have all received funding since graduating from the program.”

Entries for this year’s competition are now being accepted via the Cleantech Open site at

Entrants receive top training, access to one of the world’s largest cleantech networks, complementary participation in events and the opportunity to compete for prizes at both the regional and national level, with a grand prize of $250,000 of investment and services.

About the Cleantech Open

The Cleantech Open is the world’s largest cleantech business competition. Its mission is to find, fund and foster entrepreneurs with big ideas that address today’s most urgent energy, environmental and economic challenges. The program provides the infrastructure, expertise and strategic relationships to turn clever ideas into successful global cleantech companies. Since 2006, through its one-of-a-kind annual business competition and mentorship program, the Cleantech Open has enabled hundreds of clean technology startups to bring their breakthrough ideas to fruition, helped alumni contestants raise funding, and created an estimated 1,200 green collar jobs.

The Cleantech Open is a catalyst for clean tech innovation across six categories: Air, Water, Waste, Energy Efficiency, Green Building, Renewable Energy, Smart Power and Storage, and Transportation. We are the world’s largest small business incubator and competition for clean and green startups.

In 2011, the Cleantech Open will serve more than 25 states. The North Central program is open to entrepreneurs in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

Past North Central successes include: Xolve (WI), Earth Clean (MN), Silicon Solar Solutions (AK), New Water (MN), Andura Technologies (CA), Cool Earth Solar (CA), EcoFactor (CA), and GreenVolts (CA).

Volunteer for the North Central Region!

The North Central organizers are actively recruiting seasoned professional volunteers to assist as mentors, judges and program committee members that help plan local events and clinics, contestant recruitment, partner development and sustainability education.

North Central Region Sponsors

See a list of North Central Cleantech Open Sponsors here:

For more information, visit, email nc_[email protected] and follow @cleantechopen on Twitter.