The Other (Cheaper) Green Jobs Catalyst: Entrepreneurs & $1M Bait

What U.S. lawmakers are hoping to do with part of the $787 billion stimulus package, organizers of this year’s Clean Tech Open want to do with a million bucks: create green jobs. Adapting their annual competition to the current economy, organizers this year are calling on entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, government agencies, universities and NGOs to create 100,000 green jobs in the U.S. over the next five years.
The aptly named “100K Jobs Challenge” reflects a shift in tone from last year, when the main call to arms (issued by San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed at the launch) was not to put people back to work, but “to bring to us a way to make it possible for the people of San Jose to install solar on their residences at no net cost” — all with a somewhat laughable deadline of 60 days “to figure it out.”
As in past years, cash prizes and services (a “startup-in-a-box”) are at stake in the Clean Tech Open. More than $1 million worth of prizes will be divvied up among a dozen U.S. startups in the business plan competition, open for the first time to entrepreneurs based outside of California.
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Clean Tech Open Goes National, Lures Startups With New Grand Prize

cleantechopenEntrepreneurs, start your engines. The Clean Tech Open, the Silicon Valley non-profit that has helped Aurora Biofuels, Lucid Design Systems and more than a hundred other startups raise nearly $125 million over the last three years, is going big time. The group’s annual competition for early-stage cleantech startups will for the first time this year extend beyond California to all U.S. residents and include a grand prize. In past years, teams vied for six awards of $50,000, plus $50,000 worth of office space and professional services like insurance and accounting. Contest organizers said this morning that 2009’s winnings for at least one startup will be even more extensive.

For those of you interested in competing, there are six categories: Air, Water and Waste; Energy Efficiency; Green Building; Renewable Energy; Smart Power; and Transportation. We’d love to share more details, but they won’t come out until the official Clean Tech Open launch taking place next month in San Jose. After that, startups have until May 30 to submit applications.

California Clean Tech Open 2008 Announces Winners

The California green business competition, the California Clean Tech Open, which has churned out a series of quality cleantech startups over the past two years, announced its winners for 2008 on Thursday night. The 6 winners include sustainable diapers startup Over the Moon Diapers, electric car conversion startup ElectraDrive, green building company BottleStone, green data center startup Power Assure, energy efficient air conditioner company Viridis Earth, and solar hot water heater company Focal Point Energy. The winners were chosen out of 43 finalists, and 100 submissions, and will receive the equivalent of $100,000 in both cash and business services in a ‘startup-in-a-box prize.’
The winners were announced at the awards ceremony in San Francisco, at an event where the Mayor of San Jose Chuck Reed, Foundation Capital Principal Steve Vassallo and the Deputy Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of Energy, David Rodgers, all gave speeches on their view of where the cleantech industry is headed in these financially challenging times.
We’ll profile these startups more in depth in the coming weeks, but we wanted to give you the heads up on the winners. All the award recipients gave charmingly stunned and excited acceptance speeches at the event, and it was interesting to see their unbridled enthusiasm compared to the alumni winners and previous finalists with a year or two of startup life under their belt. Most of the winners and finalists this year are looking for funding to get their business plan and idea off the ground and into production. This isn’t the best time to be an early stage cleantech company looking to raise a first round of funding, but being able to say your company is a California Clean Tech Open finalist or winner, will definitely help.

Solazyme Grows $45M for Algae Fuel

Last week, Solazyme CEO Jonathan Wolfson said confidently that his synthetic biology startup would be able to produce millions of gallons of biofuel from algae within three years. That confidence could have been fueled by a large, $45.4 million Series C round of funding that the company has raised, according to PEHub.com. The money reportedly comes from return investors the Roda Group and Harris & Harris Group, as well as new additions Braemar Energy Ventures and Lightspeed Venture Partners.

Like Aurora Biofuels and Synthetic Genomics, Solazyme’s intellectual property resides in the DNA of the custom-made algal strains that the company engineers. Solazyme grows its designer algae in fermentation tanks without sunlight, by feeding it sugar, and uses existing industrial equipment to extract the oil. The next step for the company, Wolfson told CNet, is a commercial-scale plant that will break ground in the next two years.

Founded in 2003, the South San Francisco-based startup began as a synthetic biology company focused on drug manufacturing, but switched over to biofuels when it found VCs were hungry to invest in cleaner transportation fuels. Since then, Solazyme has secured development deals with Chevron and Imperium Biofuels (oops).

Previously, Solazyme had raised about $8 million in equity and $7 million in debt as well as winning a $2 million grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Clearing The Cache – Microsoft

Like many of us, I spend quite a lot of time on the web and come across a staggering number of interesting things. In Clearing The Cache I choose a theme, pull out some of my favorites and share them with you here.

Some interesting stuff coming out of the Microsoft Office Labs

Microsoft unleashes Photosynth, albeit with a bit of a stumble

Kevin from jkOnTheRun wants XP on his Acer Aspire One

And if you haven’t seen it, Bill’s Last Day is still an entertaining break for a Friday

The Daily Sprout

Tesla Grabs Mazda Design Director: Franz von Holzhausen, former Director of Design for Mazda North America, has joined Tesla Motors as Chief Designer. This is the third auto industry vet Tesla has snapped up recently. The startup got a new EVP of Vehicle Engineering from Chrysler and just this week hired a new CFO from FordPress Release.

Nissan Shows Off Electric Car: Nissan unveiled a prototype electric vehicle as well as a new hybrid prototype, both sporting the auto maker’s lithium-ion battery pack. Nissan says it’s on track for a 2010 production debut of its electric vehicle – Press Release.

DOE Supports CCTO’s Green Building Competition: The National Renewable Energy Laboratory will support the California Clean Tech Open’s green building competition which will award $50,000 to the winning business plan. This is part of the DOE’s larger green building campaign, including the new National Laboratory Collaborative on Building Technologies – MarketWatch.

Super-lattice Could Yield Super Fuel Cells: Researchers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Spain’s Universidad Complutense de Madrid and Universidad Politécnica de Madrid say they have developed a “super-lattice” that can allow solid-oxide fuel cells to operate at much lower temperatures and lower costs than existing fuel cells – ScienceDaily.

The New Republic Parses Paris’s Energy Plan: Noting the absurdity that more voters might listen to Paris Hilton discuss energy policy than to either candidate, The New Republic delves into the the faux campaign ad from the celebutante to analyze her proposed energy policy – The New Republic.

Cleantech Business Competition Heading to Colorado

The California Clean Tech Open is broadening its horizons and will be taking its clean tech business plan competition to the mountains to accept submissions for the first Colorado Clean Tech Open in Spring of 2009, CCTO Programs Director Brian Prayer announced last night. Members of the Denver Chamber of Commerce were on hand at the CCTO’s Energy Efficiency Symposium at PG&E’s headquarters in San Francisco. Katie Roberts of the CCTO tells us the competition is also looking elsewhere in the country but isn’t ready to announce any other programs just yet.

The greater Denver-Boulder area should prove to be fertile grounds for a clean tech competition. The state already has a renewable portfolio standard in place. It’s also home to the University of Colorado and several federal institutions, including the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which have been researching energy efficiency.
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California Clean Tech Open Announces 2008 Finalists

That California business competition that continues to launch some of the cleantech industry’s most innovative startups has just announced their finalists for this year. The California Clean Tech Open (CCTO) has announced 44 finalists (must not have had enough good ones to have the estimated 50) that make up 6 categories: “Air, Water & Waste,” “Energy Efficiency,” “Green Building,” “Renewables,” “Smart Power,” and “Transportation.”

Just being named a finalist will help out these 44 early stage startups. The CCTO says that past year’s companies have gone on to raise over $70 million in VC funding over the last two years, and 84 percent of the alumni are still viable businesses. This year’s picks include startups working on a solar-power ice maker, reuseable diapers, green modular buildings, landfill methane recovery, and home energy monitoring display. Here’s the CCTO’s picks below the jump:
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Google Pushes Media to Your TV

Google yesterday released Google Media Server, a tiny application that runs in the background on users’ desktops to send their media files as well as Picasa photos and YouTube video to a TV via a “universal plug-and-play” device like the PlayStation 3.

You’ll need Windows, Google Desktop, and a UPnP-enabled device (for instance, a HP or Loewe television, a Roku SoundBridge, an Archos portable media player, or a PlayStation 3) to try it out, so this does require some tinkering. However, Google Media Server won’t work for the XBox 360 because apparently to link it up, Google would have had to say its server was made by Microsoft (at least according to someone from the Media Server team commenting in their forum).

Alternatives include Orb and TVersity, but they don’t connect directly to YouTube and Picasa (Update: TVersity does connect to YouTube, per the comments). On the web streaming front, YouTube has also been upping its game to get onto living room devices.

Will Apple cave to mobile operators pressure; iPhone selling for $200 or less?

iphone.jpg A turn off for some people who drooled over the iPhone was the price. Yes they wanted it, but they weren’t willing to drop $399 for the iPhone 8G, and they wouldn’t even think about paying $499 for the iPhone 16GB. I know people like that, thing is the people I knew could easily afford to purchase the extremely popular smartphone they weren’t about to spend the money. If you’ve balked at the price it even though you wanted the iPhone you most likely will see a price drop.

Financial Times is reporting that Apple has caved to the pressure from mobile operators and agreed that they can subsidize the latest iPhone. Of course, this is great news for Apple it means that they will be able to reach its target of selling ten million iPhones in 2008 a lot sooner since more people will be willing to spend the money.

The big question is how much will the price drop? Analysts are saying that AT&T could provide a $200 subsidy on the iPhone which means the customer could purchase the iPhone for $200 or less. Those familiar with the issue are saying that Apple has finally accepted that the new iPhone should be subsidized. The current iPhone was so pricey was because there was not subsidy.

Mobile operators won’t mind taking on the cost of the iPhone because the iPhone provides them with other money making opportunities. Arrangements have been in place between Apple, Deutsche of the UK, France Telecom, and O2. What are the companies saying about this issue? Nothing all companies declined to comment on this subject.

The iPhone has done very well in a short time. Apple is now the worlds #3 smartphone vendor. In the U.S., they have done even better claiming the#2 spot with 20% of the market share. They are far behind the #1 smartphone vendor, RIM, who has 42 percent of the market share. The success with the Apple iPhone is very impressive especially when you consider that it didn’t appear on the scene last year. It was announced at the MacWorld Expo on January 21, 2007, and it was introduced on June 29, 2007. Time named it invention of the year.

A lower priced iPhone 2 is great news for those longing to get their hands on this hot device but were reluctant to pay its high price. Now if Apple would only open it up to other operators, I would be able to claim my piece of iPhone goodness.

With a lower priced iPhone Apple should have no problem meeting its goal of selling 10 million iPhones in 2008. I honestly believe they are going to reach that goal anyway.

Will we see a lower priced iPhone? We don’t have too much longer to wait the WWDC kicks off tomorrow and all answers surrounding the much hyped about iPhone 2 should be revealed. Are you going to purchase the next generation iPhone if the price is lowered, or where you planning on buying it anyway?