Last Thursday, Makovsky’s Energy practice was in Old Town Alexandria for the Cleantech Open Southeast’s 3rd Annual Regional Innovation Summit. The purpose of this great event was to showcase the region’s up-and-coming startups in the cleantech space. As a partner and sponsor of the event, Makovsky had the opportunity to listen in on the insightful panels, but also got to speak with the innovators and entrepreneurs who are engineering the clean energy solutions of tomorrow.

The mission of the Cleantech Open is simple—find, fund and foster entrepreneurs with big ideas that address today’s most urgent energy, environmental and economic challenges. Since its inception in 2006, more than 900 participating companies in Cleantech Open’s training, mentoring and funding programs have raised more than $900 million in external capital and created thousands of jobs.

This year’s summit attracted a variety of stakeholders from investors and Fortune 500 company executives, to policy makers and academic leaders. Guests and speakers included: William Euille, Mayor of Alexandria; Heidi VanGenderen, Director of Public Engagement at the U.S. Department of Energy; Elizabeth Dougherty, Director of Inventor Education, Outreach & Recognition at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office; and Sarah Hanks, co-founder & CEO of CrowdCheck, among others

In addition to the day’s insightful speeches and panels, 21 startups from Georgia to Maryland competed in an accelerator program—pitching their technologies and business models to a panel of judges. This year’s accelerator program was focused on energy efficiency, waste-to-energy and the smart grid, but included other categories as well.

Joshua C. Greene, executive director and co-founder of the Cleantech Open Southeast described the innovation he saw at the event. “This year’s class of accelerator participants was the strongest we’ve seen thanks to the exponential growth the cleantech industry has experienced in the Southeast region.”

Three regional finalists were selected and awarded with cash and in-kind services to help them with their paths to commercialization. Additionally, these three finalists will head out to San Francisco in early November to compete for the national grand prize of $200,000 at the Cleantech Open’s Global Forum.

The three finalists were announced at the end of a long but fruitful day—Atlanta-based, DPG Energy, received both finalist and sustainability awards, while Mississippi based NG1 Tech and Washington, D.C. based BitGrid, Inc. both received finalist awards.

Here are some quotes from the finalists.

“The Cleantech Open Southeast created an ecosystem that we could not have succeeded without. We are very thankful for this growing and learning experience,” said Bill Malcolm, CEO of DPG Energy. “We are extremely elated and proud to receive both finalist and sustainability recognition.”

“The accelerator program is a great avenue for innovation in the southeast region,” said Cynthia O’Donnell, CEO of NG1 Tech. “We were honored to be able to participate in the Cleantech Open Southeast this year and are flattered to be recognized for this award in the cleantech space.”

“We are grateful for this validation from the Cleantech Open Southeast and look forward to using the resources to move our technology even further,” BitGrid CTO Sahil Talwar explained.

Hats off to all the companies, volunteers and people who helped put on such an amazing event. We are very proud and happy to be a part of the Cleantech Open Southeast and are already looking forward to next year’s event. Until then, on to San Francisco and good luck to the three southeast finalists!

– Brian Smith


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