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Women and Minority Led Businesses Win Top Prizes at 17th Annual Cleantech Open Northeast Accelerator Program Awards
$50,000 in prizes given to environmental startups from Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ontario and Denmark.
Boston, MA -- September 30, 2021 -- Four startup companies breaking new ground in greenhouse gas reduction and featuring women and minorities in leadership took home the top prizes in this year’s 17th annual Cleantech Open Northeast Accelerator Program Awards. The winners were Innovia GEO from Oakville, Ont., which specializes in accessible geothermal energy; Osmoses from Somerville, Mass., which performs sustainable, industrial-grade molecular filtration and carbon capture; Princeton NuEnergy from Bordentown, N.J., which has developed a novel lithium-ion battery recycling process to directly recover and regenerate used battery materials; and STAC Technology from Hellerup, Denmark, which performs large-scale heating and cooling using advanced water-vapor driven turbo-compressors.
Each of these four companies will receive $10,000 in cash plus additional in-kind services. Osmoses is also the first Carbon Sequestration prize winner, another prize worth $10,000. So they will take home $20,000. All four of these startups will go on to represent the Northeast at the virtual 2021 Cleantech Open Global Forum October 20-22. There, they will compete with emerging environmental and energy technology firms throughout the nation for the national grand prize. Innovia GEO also took home the People’s Choice Award, given by attendees at the ceremony.
Launched in 2005, Cleantech Open Northeast has served as an accelerator for 523 clean technology startups from the northeast United States and eastern Canada and is part of the world’s largest environmental technology accelerator, Cleantech Open. This year, for the first time ever, global applicants were able to participate virtually, provided they had strong ties to the northeast North American region.
“The two big themes in this year’s accelerator were diversity and environmental impact. The winning startups embody these issues, and we can't wait to see how all of the startups in this cohort develop, thrive and improve our world,” stated Beth Zonis, Senior Director, Cleantech Open Northeast, NECEC. “Each of the winners this year is putting forward heavy, hard tech solutions that can have an immense positive impact on our climate, which really helped them to stand out in an excellent field of candidates.”
A major focus in the 2021 awards was put on diversity, equity and inclusion, with 31 of the 50 initial participants featuring women and minorities in leadership. In addition, the participants received training from Browning the Green Space on how to improve their diversity and how to reach effectively into underserved communities.
Participants in this accelerator program also received specific training in how to quantify the environmental impact of their solutions for potential clients and investors.
“We seek to give them the tools that help take them from great ideas to thriving companies,” Zonis said.
Graduates of the program generate more than $279 million in annual revenue and have raised over $653 million in capital. They employ over 3,300 people and 68% of them are still active.
The four winners were selected by a judging panel of top cleantech and climatetech investors at the virtual Cleantech Open Northeast Regional Finals. On September 28 at the semi-finals 60 judges from across the US and around the world came together virtually to see 44 separate teams make their pitch. They had previously reviewed the startups’ curriculum deliverables. The semi-finals judges selected the top six teams to have the opportunity to pitch in front of a live audience and a panel of finals judges.
180 people attended the virtual finals event, including entrepreneurs, investors, business leaders and public officials. The finals judges were Brandon Blaesser of Ecosystem Integrity Fund, Alba Forns of Seeds Renewables, Jane (Jing) Ge of Vectors Angel, Dan Goldman of Clean Energy Ventures, Nneka (Uzoh) Kibuule of Aligned Climate Capital, Daniela Vargas of Social Capital, and Adam Wallen of Breakthrough Energy Ventures.
With 44 companies graduating from the 2021 Cleantech Open Northeast accelerator, there are now 523 alumni companies. In the 2021 cohort 10 are from Massachusetts, eight from New York, four from New Jersey, three from Canada, three from Italy, two from Connecticut, two from Maine, one from New Hampshire, one from Rhode Island, one from Vermont, one from Alabama, one from Virgina, one from Puerto Rico, one from Denmark, and one from France.
Beyond the four winners, two runners up (Aqualumos and Julius) and two other teams that pitched at the finals (InfiSense and Measured Air Performance) have been invited to represent the Northeast in the competition at the Cleantech Open Global Forum, bringing the total to eight that will pitch for the national grand prize. Finally, Barrio Eléctrico and Long Island Clean Water Technology were given Honorable Mention. All Cleantech Open Northeast graduating teams are invited to attend the Global Forum to meet investors and expand their professional networks.
More about the 2021 Cleantech Open Northeast cohort
Innovia GEO Corp. (Winner & People’s Choice Award Winner)
Innovia GEO is focused on decarbonizing how we heat and cool our buildings and homes by developing innovative renewable heating and cooling solutions. Our flagship GEOthermal Piles significantly cut the cost of implementing clean and efficient geothermal HVAC systems by integrating geothermal functionality into steel foundation piles, thereby enabling their dual use as both a foundation structure and a geothermal ground heat exchanger.
"Winning the CTO Regional Final is a launchpad for us as we get ready to launch our GEOPiles to the market and seek investment partners to help support our growth plans," said Innovia GEO CTO Andrew Lee.
Osmoses (Winner & Winner of Carbon Sequestration Prize)
Chemicals & Advanced Materials
Industrial purification and separation processes account for 15% of the world energy consumption and 16% of the CO2 emissions. This is because we still use energy-intensive, century-old technologies. At Osmoses, we developed a clean solution to change this: molecular filters that can purify hydrogen, natural- and bio-gas, and can perform carbon capture at scale. We are committed to transform chemical separations and contribute to tackle climate change while generating value for our customers.
Francesco Benedetti, CEO of Osmoses stated, “It is an incredible moment for clean technology, and being part of this revolution makes all of us very proud. Two years ago I heard about the Cleantech Open Accelerator from Beth Zonis at the MIT Energy Night when Osmoses was an idea and a research project. Winning the Northeast program and the Carbon Sequestration Prize is such an incredible milestone. It validates our efforts and passion to create sustainable solutions for the energy and chemical industry, and will help us attract talent and connect with great global partners.”
Princeton NuEnergy (Winner)
Chemicals & Advanced Materials
Princeton NuEnergy (PNE) is developing a novel lithium-ion battery recycling process to directly recover and regenerate used battery materials. Compared to current industrial battery recycling processes, PNE's process is simpler, more cost effective, and more environmentally friendly. With our process, critical battery materials such as the cathode and anode can be recycled, restored, and reused in new batteries, without the need to break the materials down into the raw elements.
Chao Yan, CEO of Princeton NuEnergy stated, "Cleantech Open is a great platform to support us on business development, investor engagement, and customer base establishment. This award will help us with the execution of our pilot production line in Q1 2022. Additionally, the consulting and legal support will strengthen our position in intellectual property, business strategy and marketing."
STAC Technology (Winner)
STAC Technology is a leader in the development of advanced water-vapor driven turbo-compressors targeted towards large-scale District Heating & Cooling (DHC) networks. Our patented Vapor Compression Refrigeration System employs 100% water to simultaneously produce pumpable ice slurry and hot water. This technology presents a near-zero-emission, plug-and-play solution to DHC networks that will drive material efficiency gains, reduce power consumption and enable greater reach & retrofit potential.
"We are humbled and honored to be selected as the winner of the 2021 Cleantech Open Northeast finals,” said Bobby Svenning, COO at STAC. “We enrolled in Cleantech Open with an open mind and listening ear and have been determined to make the most of an incredible opportunity. We especially thank our mentors; Chris, Jurgen, Mike and Murray for their expert counsel and consistent dedication to us throughout this process as well as the entire administrative team at Cleantech Open Northeast. You have made hard work, simple. STAC Technology's mission is to decarbonize cooling using proven technology embedded in a novel architecture that employs water-as-refrigerant. Winning the Cleantech Open Northeast will help us to forge new partnerships, recruit the best team and open doors into a larger ecosystem that can foster further success."
Agriculture, Water, & Waste
We are developing a specialized industrial-scale reactor that uses light and a catalyst to break down PFAS, also known as “forever chemicals”. Available solutions merely filter out and concentrate PFAS and inevitably recontaminate the environment. We are developing a system that safely breaks down PFAS to non-toxic compounds, permanently solving the problem. We expect our solution to be scalable and energy-efficient, thus affording us a unique business model that aligns financial interests.
Julius powers the green infrastructure sector with solutions to attract, upskill, and drive mobility for millions of diverse learners & employees. Renewable jobs will reach 30 million globally by 2030, while decarbonization disrupts millions of fossil fuel jobs. We seek to help workers affected by the energy transition find new roles; help green infrastructure companies better support, upskill and retain critical employees for the future; and drive economic mobility for millions of workers.
Energy Distribution & Storage
After the 2017 hurricanes in Puerto Rico, almost 500,000 households waited 2-10 months to be reconnected to power. Today, less than 20,000 households have installed solar systems. We fix the failed electricity market with affordable residential solar-plus-storage leases, relying on community engagement to support the systems. This model creates distributed energy and data needed to construct the microgrids and local energy marketplaces that will define the future of electric service.
Long Island Clean Water Technology, Inc.
Agriculture, Water, & Waste
Long Island Clean Water Technology is developing an aqueous nitrogen sensor that can measure both ammonium and nitrates in real time, in wastewater for over six months without maintenance. The self calibrating and self cleaning system has been sponsored and extensively tested by the US EPA, which estimates the need for over 2.4 million new nitrogen treating septic systems. The Sensor won a $50,000 challenge against 18 incumbent products for its accuracy, precision, and reliability.
About Cleantech Open
Cleantech Open Northeast is the Northeast region of Cleantech Open and is managed by NECEC as the on-the-ground affiliate. Cleantech Open is the world’s oldest and largest cleantech accelerator and is dedicated to providing entrepreneurs and technologists the resources needed to launch a successful cleantech company. Its mission is to find, fund, and foster entrepreneurs with big ideas that address today’s most urgent energy, environmental, and economic challenges. Cleantech Open provides the infrastructure, expertise and strategic relationships that turn clever ideas into successful global cleantech companies. Fueled by a network of more than 2,000 volunteers, Cleantech Open unites the public and private sectors in a shared vision for making America’s cleantech sector a thriving economic engine. Between 2005 and 2020, Cleantech Open Northeast trained more than 450 early-stage clean technology startups through its annual business accelerator. Sixty-eight percent of Cleantech Open Northeast alumni are still in business, and Cleantech Open Northeast alumni have raised more than $650 million, created more than 3,300 clean economy jobs, and generated more than $280 million in revenue. For more information, visit cleantechopen.org.
NECEC (Northeast Clean Energy Council & NECEC Institute) is the premier voice of businesses building a world-class clean energy hub in the Northeast, helping clean energy companies start, scale and succeed with our unique business, innovation, and policy leadership. NECEC is the Northeast regional affiliate for Cleantech Open, executing the Northeast accelerator and business plan competition and building the region’s innovation network with NECEC’s successor program for cleantech entrepreneurs, Cleantech Navigate Northeast. Learn more at www.necec.org