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U.S. National Grand Prize

Los Angeles, Calif. - Oct. 22, 2021 - After an intense six-month accelerator program of mentorship, business training and networking with investors and partners, Princeton NuEnergy of Bordentown, New Jersey, is this year’s winner of Cleantech Open’s U.S. National Grand Prize. The prize includes a $50,000 SAFE note.

More than 120 companies participated in Cleantech Open’s 2021 accelerator cohort. At the end of the program, 114 of them participated in regional competitions across the US, and 20 finalists were picked to compete on the national level. 

The top six finalists were invited to pitch at Cleantech Open’s flagship annual event, the Global Forum, held virtually from Wednesday, October 20th to Friday, October 22nd, and the winners were announced on the last day of the event. 

“For the past 16 years, we have supported over 1,800 entrepreneurs through business training, mentoring, and networking. We’re excited to see Princeton NuEnergy disrupt and improve traditional lithium-ion battery recycling,” said Executive Director, Ken Hayes at Cleantech Open. “Congratulations to the team!”

Princeton NuEnergy 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 its 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."

The U.S. National Runner-up is Leap Photovoltaics of San Francisco, Calif. Leap Photovoltaics is developing a revolutionary process to manufacture crystalline silicon solar cells without wafers. Its additive manufacturing approach can achieve the same performance and reliability as traditional solar cells at half the cost using entirely local supply chains. This unique combination leaps the barriers of thin margins and supply chain disruptions that are holding back the explosive growth in solar manufacturing that we need to achieve our decarbonization goals.

Leap Photovoltaics also won the National People's Choice Award which was voted for by the attendees of CTO’s Global Forum event. 

The National Finalists include:

This year, Cleantech Open also held the 2021 Global Ideas Pitch Competition to offer international cleantech startups the opportunity to showcase their work and win cash prizes of up to $5,000 USD. The event was held from October 19 to 22, and the finalists were invited to pitch at the Global Forum. 

The winners are:

FinX (France) - Global Ideas Winner & Global Ideas Peoples' Choice

Revamp Moto (India) - Global Ideas Runner-Up

Ken Hayes said: “2021 was one of the most international years in Cleantech Open’s history, with 20% of our cohort companies being based outside of the US, yet eager to do business in America. It was great to reflect Cleantech Open’s global reach through the Global Ideas Pitch Competition, and the response and quality of submissions were outstanding. Congratulations to FinX for taking home both the Global Ideas Winner’s prize and the People’s Choice award.” 

During the main event of Global Forum, Cleantech Open welcomed keynote speakers Dr. Jonathan Foley, Executive Director of Project Drawdown, Dr. Emily Reichert, CEO of Greentown Labs and Joshua Aviv, CEO and Co-Founder of SparkCharge. Cleantech Open’s national operations are financially supported by Wells Fargo, a National Premier Sponsor.

In the run-up to the Global Forum, Cleantech Open ran an invite-only Investor & Partner Connect event, where over three days, Cleantech Open organized 714 curated “speed-meetings” between entrepreneurs, investors, and corporate partners, including over 900 personal introductions over Zoom. Speakers included Aaron Fyke of Thin Line Capital and Jason Blumberg of Energy Foundry.

More information can be found on the Global Forum Event Site, including descriptions and links to all the companies of the cohort, as well as recordings of the event.

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