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National Finals National Grand Prize Verge22 global forum

Los Angeles, Calif. - Oct. 27, 2022 - Cleantech Open, the world's largest and longest-running clean technology accelerator, today announced the winner of its annual U.S. National Grand Prize: Renegade Plastics of Golden, Colo., won the public pitch competition held at the organization’s annual flagship event, the Global Forum, in San Jose, Calif. The prize includes a $50,000 SAFE note.

More than 90 companies joined Cleantech Open’s 2022 accelerator program. After an intense six months of mentorship, business training and networking with investors and partners, 77 participated in regional competitions across the US, and 18 finalists progressed to compete at the national level at the Global Forum.

The top six finalists pitched publicly on Wednesday, October 26th, and the winner was announced at the Global Forum awards luncheon.

“For the past 17 years, we have supported over 1,900 entrepreneurs through business training, mentoring, and networking. We want to congratulate Renegade Plastics on their achievement and look forward to seeing the team succeed in replacing unsustainable textiles and films with non-toxic and recyclable alternatives,” said Ken Hayes, Executive Director, Cleantech Open. 

Renegade Plastics provides a toxic-free, recyclable fabric solution for the outdated dangerous flexible PVC plastics used in numerous industries from billboards to sports equipment. Renegade has exclusive rights to a polypropylene-based replacement for PVC-coated fabrics that can improve the environment from farms to school bus seats to fabric structures. By replacing these materials, Renegade establishes the foundation for a circular plastic fabric economy.

Tony Ehrbar, CEO of Renegade Plastics, commented, "Cleantech Open has been an amazing accelerator program supporting us with strategy development, customer discovery, and introductions to investors. In addition, our mentors helped us sharpen our approach, and the consulting and advice received from Cleantech Open’s ecosystem was second to none. It will set us up for success in building a circular economy for the plastic fabrics industry."

The U.S. National Runner-up is Verde Technologies Incorporated of Burlington, VT. The company develops a thin-film solar panel that is lightweight, flexible, affordable and easily installable due to its adhesive backing.

Verde Technologies Incorporated 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:

In the run-up to the Global Forum, Cleantech Open also held the 2022 Global Ideas Pitch Competition for international cleantech startups. Companies pitched their solutions for the chance to win cash prizes of up to $5,000 USD. The event was held virtually from October 3 and 6, and the finalists were invited to present at the Global Forum.

The finalists are:

  • Winner: Fairmat (France). Fairmat recycles carbon fiber composite to reuse in composite material applications.
  • Runner-Up: Eranova (France). Eranova creates an alternative to fossil plastics using seaweed with a patented process.
  • People's Choice: Godaam Innovations (India). The company introduces technology to empower onion farmers to increase their holding capacity and revenue.

For the first time since 2019, the Global Forum was held in person again, co-located at VERGE 22, one of the leading climate tech conferences in the world. Companies from the current cohort and CTO alumni showcased their solutions in the expo area in the VERGE startup pavilion, and members of the public were invited to attend the National Finals on Wednesday, October 26th and the CTO Awards Ceremony Luncheon on Thursday, October 27th.

During the main event of the Global Forum, Cleantech Open welcomed keynote speaker Joel Makower, journalist, author, and chairman and executive editor of GreenBiz. He was followed by successful CTO alumni speakers:

  • Gia Schneider, CEO and Co-Founder of CTO Alum Natel Energy, a hydropower company that utilizes innovative, fish-safe turbines – eliminating the need for costly screens and structures that direct fish away from turbines.

  • Anas Al Kassas, CEO of INOVUES, a climate-tech company working to make buildings more efficient and sustainable by retrofitting the facades and windows with the latest energy-saving smart glass technologies.

  • Max Dunn, Chief Software Architect at OhmConnect, a company that provides home energy management solutions via smart meter analytics and energy market integration.

The alumni panel was moderated by Rex Northen, former Executive Director of Cleantech Open, entrepreneur, and seasoned environmental advocate with a long history of building companies.

In the run-up to the Global Forum, Cleantech Open ran an invite-only Investor & Partner Connect event, where over four days - three virtual and one in-person at the Global Forum - Cleantech Open organized over 700 one-on-one, curated ‘speed meetings’ between entrepreneurs, investors, and corporate partners.

Wells Fargo is the National Premier Sponsor of Cleantech Open, making the 2022 Accelerator possible, along with a host of regional and in-kind sponsors.

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

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