We announced today that last night Texas based synthetic biology CO2 to products startup Cemvita Factory edged energy forecasting software startup Amperon and Stanford cooling materials startup SkyCool for the 2021 Cleantech.org $100K GS Beyond Energy Innovation Prize. Jeff Wolfe of energy storage company Veloce Energy, and whose executive team comes from market leaders Tritium and Stem, was the crowd favorite pitch. The crowd also ranked Cemvita, Amperon, and SkyCool next as well. Judges reported that all 6 finalists including Sapphire Technologies, a spinout of Calnetix led by CEO Freddie Sarhan formerly an executive at Praxair, and Annette Finsterbusch, CEO of lithium ion battery manufacturing startup EnPower, and formerly head of Applied Materials venture arm, had strong showings and support to make the top 3. All 6 startups had 7 minutes to pitch, and 8 minute Q&A from judges.
Finals judges were Robert Linck, Chief Investment Officer of Shell Ventures, Deb Merril, President of EDF Retail, and formerly founder and CEO of retail energy powerhouse Just Energy, Rodrigo Prudencio, who began investing at pioneering energy venture firm Nth Power, and was CEO of carbon software startup Hara, now heading Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund, as well as Kevin Hahm, GM of Investments at GS Energy Group, representing the prize sponsor, and my partner Q Song at Energy Transition Ventures.
Cemvita is located in the energy capital of the world, Houston, Texas, and edged NY and Texas based Amperon, and Silicon Valley based SkyCool. Veloce also has split executive teams in California and Texas, and EnPower is located in Phoenix. Lisa Ann Pinkerton, long time cleantech sector journalist and PR executive as well as the Chair of Women in Cleantech & Sustainability, gave a talk during the break on “Getting to Yes”, and Cemvita will be interviewed on our podcast partner Futurized.co.
I haven’t organized a challenge or prize competition like this since launching Shell Gamechanger’s R&D innovation challenges some years ago as a Gamechanger project with Cleantech.org, and was extremely pleased with the overall quality of competition. The incubator and accelerator partners for the competition helped dramatically increase the quality of applicants, and the 25 startups in the semifinals had raised well over a hundred million between them. The aggregate fundraising in process for the semi-finals group was well into the hundreds of millions. We had several billion in energy transition investment capital represented in the judging from a handpicked slate of experienced investors and executives, and the 6 finalists made their decision hard. I will post the finals video of the event up on the Energy Transition youtube channel shortly, and add to the Cleantech.org LinkedIn page.