CTO Global Forum 2019 Debuts the Next Generation of Cleantech Startups

Posted by Emily Lundberg on

Category: National

Early this week, the Cleantech Open held its annual Global Forum, including an alumni showcase expo, a lively series of startup pitch sessions, a curated speed dating match-up with interested investors, a speaker series, and two competitions—one with finalists and winners of the U.S. Grand Prize and another for the Global Ideas Award. Over 300 people attended the event, with more than 65 companies exhibiting their clean technologies. 

The U.S. Grand Prize was awarded to Radical Plastics for their development of a proprietary catalyst technology that renders conventional plastics completely biodegradable in the natural environment. The U.S. National Runner-Up was South 8 Technologies for their development of next-generation lithium batteries with proprietary Liquefied Gas Electrolytes. 

The Global Ideas Award went to Germany’s Nuventura for their development of switchgear that empowers smart grids and eliminates the need for SF6, the world’s most harmful greenhouse gas. The CTO Global Runner-Up was EVA for its development of compact electric and autonomous vertical take-off and landing technology for air taxi services, rescue, and logistics.

The event started on Sunday, January 27, at the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator’s (LACI) La Kretz Innovation Campus, a fully renovated 60,000-square foot building in the heart of the dynamic Los Angeles Arts District, where Finalists and judges congregated to pitch, deliberate, and finally select the six national finalists.

On Monday, the public portion of the event opened with the six finalists Live Pitching in LACI’s mini-amphitheater. As the judges deliberated, the global and national startups were offered a series of workshops to support them in evaluating their technologies, honing their business plans, ensuring their market readiness and networking with potential partners, advisors and customers. In addition, startups and participants were offered tours of various leading facilities around SoCal related to cleantech, including Homeboy Recycling, SoCal Edison’s Energy Education Center, and the marine laboratory AltaSea. 

On Tuesday the main public day of CTO's annual Global Forum, started with CTO, LACI and Global Ideas companies exhibiting at the Innovation Showcase. During lunch, the Global Companies pitched their startup ideas in front of a live audience, followed by a keynote, panel discussion and awards.

California Energy Commission Executive Director Drew Bohan talked about the state’s policies to further the work of clean energy entrepreneurs. Ira Ehrenpreis, DBL Partners Venture Capitalist, shared a scintillating conversation with Mapbox ‏VP of Strategic Development Marc Prioleau about the power of mapping for a myriad of cleantech applications.

Ramsay Huntley, VP of Cleantech Innovation Philanthropy at Wells Fargo, described the company’s commitment of $200B in financing to sustainable businesses by 2030. The always inspiring Shana Rappaport, GreenBiz’s  VP & ED of VERGE conference and expo, pulled our collective efforts together under the descriptive umbrella of the “Circular Economy,” one that seeks to rebuild capital, whether this is financial, manufactured, human, social or natural.

We particularly want to thank Wells Fargo and FedEx for their generous support as national sponsors, as well as the hundreds of pro-bono professionals who participated as mentors, judges, and staff. to the program. The multifaceted event was a success for all. Cleantech Open congratulates all the accelerator graduates and cannot wait to see what you all do next! We will be watching, cheering, and tweeting!

U.S. Grand Prize Winner

Radical Plastics has developed a novel technology for the manufacture of economically attractive, ecologically friendly, soil biodegradable plastics. At a time when the planet is choking on plastic waste, finding ways of making non-polluting plastics has become a major global priority. Soil biodegradable plastic films with targeted onset and rates of biodegradability for agricultural applications (e.g. mulch films) is the initial focus. The technology (patent pending) involves the utilization of a naturally-occurring byproduct from industrial processing which otherwise accumulates in the environment as waste. Radical Plastics is looking for financing and partnerships to expedite the commercialization of this novel biodegradable technology in response to the global crisis of plastic pollution. (https://www.radical-plastics.com/)

U.S. National Runner-Up

South 8 Technologies, Inc. has developed a breakthrough new Liquefied Gas Electrolyte chemistry for electrochemical energy storage devices including lithium batteries and electrochemical capacitors. Their patented technology allows for a substantial increase of energy, improved safety, and exceptionally wide operating temperatures. Leveraging conventional materials and manufacturing, South 8 Technologies offers a unique solution for a variety of transportation, grid storage, and aerospace applications. (http://www.south8technologies.com/)

U.S. Finalists

Social Solar is driving urban green energy adoption where consumers, channel partners, and energy suppliers all win! City residents can go green within minutes with the help of their algorithms and machine learning utility bill web app. This is a $10B+ opportunity within 17 USA states with deregulated energy markets. (https://nysocialsolar.com/)

Sepion Technologies, Inc. creates innovative membrane materials paving the path to safe, energy-dense batteries capable of powering electric vehicles for up to 400 miles, relieving consumer range anxiety, redefining electric mobility, and decarbonizing transportation. Sepion’s platform membrane technology is retrofittable, providing near-term benefits to today’s Li-ion batteries and pushing the boundaries of what is possible with next-generation Li-metal anodes and long-duration grid-storage batteries. A day after the Global Forum wrapped up, Sepion Technologies was awarded a CalSEED award. In 2017, the California Energy Commission began a new program to help innovators move their early-stage clean energy ideas by providing CalSEED funding; in this round, Sepion was provided $450,000 in funding. (http://www.cyclotronroad.org/sepion/)

YouSolar’s solar+battery system is a complete diesel generator replacement used for backup or primary power. The system eliminates any power quality problems from the grid and delivers uninterrupted and predictable power, whether the grid is up or down. The system is fully automated with an energy management system that learns customer consumption patterns and received a global solar radiation forecast from our proprietary cloud service. (http://yousolar.com/)

SANOS Nutrition helps agriculture feed the world without the need for more acres, more water and more fertilizer application. The startup’s yeast-based amino acid balancers of high digestibility are created by way of their patent-pending process is at the intersection of proven fermentation and novel genetic tools. (http://sanosnutrition.com/)

Global Ideas Award

Nuventura develops switchgear--an essential component of electricity grid--that empowers smart grids and eliminates the need for SF6. As it turns out, SF6 is the most potent greenhouse gas (GHG) in existence and primarily used in gas insulated switchgear (GIS). SF6 GHG emissions equal more than those of 100 million cars. Nuventura designed a GIS that replaces SF6 with air while achieving superior performance on technical and economic dimensions. Recent awards include: top 70 deep tech startups worldwide (hello tomorrow), top 100 German startups. (https://www.nuventura.com/)

Global Ideas Runner-Up

EVA develops compact electric and autonomous vertical take-off and landing technology for air taxi services, rescue, logistics. The French startup was recently listed at top10 startup at AutomobilityLA. (https://bit.ly/2SoBHiC)


Connecting Cleantech Entrepreneurs to Partners, Mentors, and Funders
 The Cleantech Open (CTO) startup accelerator finds, funds, and fosters entrepreneurs with ideas to solve the world’s greatest environmental, energy and sustainability challenges. Now, in our 14th year, Cleantech Open is the longest-standing andlargest cleantech startup accelerator in the United States and–arguably–the world. Cleantech Open is headquartered at LACI, the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator and is a program of Community Partners, a large 501(c)3 non-profit organization. 


  • By Emily Lundberg on in National

Updated on February 2, 2019 11:31 AM