The Cleantech Open hosted in San Jose its Global Forum earlier this week, which was Global Entrepreneurship week. It was the occasion to get the temperature on new cleantech innovations and also see how the business plan competition evolved since I last attended in 2008. Positioning itself now as an "accelerator" of early-stage green companies, the grand finale awarded a $250,000 package of cash investment and services to the 2011 National Grand Prize Winner, Atmosphere Recovery.
The Minnesota-based company makes laser-based gas analyzer systems for efficient manufacturing and advanced energy process control. It won amidst a wide variety of company finalists during the forum, from software activated widgets to commercial solar to innovative water solutions. Companies from China, Scandinavia, South America, Europe and Australia exhibited as well at the show under the Global Idea competition won by Biofiltro from Chile.
The global expansion is particularly refreshing in a market fighting an inherent global problem and where the United States play a decreasing role in terms of IPO and M&A exits. However, Silicon Valley remains a strong attraction with its network of investors putting roughly $5Bn a year in cleantech companies. At the show, I talked to a number of entrepreneurs in the national and global business competitions.