When you decide to apply, you should choose one of these eight categories that best fits your start-up idea.
1. Energy Generation
2. Energy Distribution & Storage
3. Energy Efficiency
4. Chemicals & Advanced Materials
5. Information & Communications Technologies (ICT)
6. Green Building
8. Agriculture, Water & Waste
Detailed descriptions of each of these categories, with examples of alumni companies, are given below.
Definition: The energy generation category includes innovations that use, enable and accelerate the usage of renewable energy resources as well as energy generation from alternative sources like waste heat, sewage and materials. This category comprises of technology that for examples include low-emission power sources, such as solar, geothermal, biofuels, wind, wave and tidal energy and hydropower. Renewables also encompass technologies that use waste streams to directly produce energy, like biogas from manure or landfills.
Example technologies include:
Energy Generation vs Transportation
If the company produces biofuels like liquid biodiesel for transportation, then they are Transportation category. If they produce biofuels, like biogas for heating or cooking, then they could be Energy Generation category.=
Energy Generation vs Agriculture-Water-Waste
If a company is focused on producing biogas from animal manure, it is an Energy Generation category. If a company is producing novel fertilizers from manure, it is an agricultural company.
Example alumni companies
a) Rentricity – Energy Generation (former Renewable Energy) category winner in 2012. Rentricity is a renewable energy company that generates electricity from untapped pressure in drinking water pipes. Rentricity works with municipal and industrial water facilities, helping them to generate clean, renewable electricity from an otherwise wasted resource. Video of the company can be seen here.
b) Atmosphere Recovery – National Grand Prize winner in 2011, also a finalist in Energy Generation (former Renewable Energy) category. Atmosphere recovery makes laser-based gas analyzer systems for efficient manufacturing and advanced energy process control.
c) Hydrovolts -National Sustainability Award winner in 2009 and finalist in Energy Generation (former Renewable Energy) category. Hydrovolts makes hydrokinetic turbines to generate renewable energy from water power for utilities, agriculture, and global sustainable development. The patent-pending turbine is a complete, compact, modular, simple, safe and scalable, providing clean and green power that is easy to install, operate and maintain. Video of the company can be seen here.
d) FloDesign Wind Turbine – regional winner and a finalist in 2008. FloDesign Wind Turbine Corp. a spinoff of aerospace company FloDesign, has developed a novel compact jet-engine inspired wind turbine that is 3-4 times more efficient and significantly cheaper to produce than existing turbines. Video of the company can be seen here.
e) Green Volts – Energy Generation (former Renewable Energy) category winner in 2006. GreenVolts designs and manufactures a complete and fully-integrated photovoltaic system. They are able to provide its customers with unmatched performance, faster installation, and easier and lower cost operation, leading to a greater return on investment.
Definition: Energy Distribution & Storage includes technologies, which enable electricity delivery and give industrial, commercial and residential consumers greater control over when and how their energy is delivered and used. It includes improvements in all forms of energy storage, from battery technology for consumer-scale products to large chemical, metal, biological or other approaches to storage of utility-scale energy, as well as methods for controlling or increasing the efficiency of energy storage or energy transmission.
Examples include intelligent sensors, batteries, fuel cells, fly-wheels, and advanced materials or systems for energy transmission, such as hardware and software controls. Energy storage also includes cell applications capable of converting various stored gases to electricity.
Example technologies include
Energy Distribution & Storage vs Energy Efficiency
If a company produces innovative energy storage systems that can be used in developing countries with underdeveloped grid systems, then the company should choose Energy Distribution & Storage category. However if they produce batteries that need less charging and thus increase the energy efficiency of the device, then it is Energy Efficiency category.
Example alumni companies:
a) Grid Mobility – winner of the 2011 former Smart Power category. GridMobility technology integrates real-time generation source signalling technology, weather forecasting and other inputs to provide control logic enabling consumers to have for the first time the ability to choose renewable energy. This increases renewable integration efficiency, fosters renewable portfolio compliance, lowers carbon emissions, and saves money. GridMobility has built software and connected hardware to enable utilities to energy-consuming appliances as on-demand grid storage in conjunction with local clean power when it’s available.
b) OnChip Power - runner up for the 2010 National Grand Prize. OnChip Power is commercializing a novel power supply architecture that will enable compact LED drivers that will fit the form factor of a socket. OnChip Power’s patented VHF (30-300 MHz) power supply architecture uses chip-scale components, and eliminates the electrolytic capacitor and magnetic materials. Video of the company can be seen here.
c) EcoFactor – Winner of the 2009 National Grand Prize and a finalist in former Smart Power category. EcoFactor is a business intelligence service for energy management. They offer heating and cooling “auto-pilot” that captures, stores and analyzes data originating from a thermostat, and turns it into automated action. EcoFactor uses data from communicating thermostats to understand the unique thermal characteristics of each home and the preferences of its occupants.
d) Lucid Design Group – winner in former Smart Power category in 2007. Lucid provides real-time web-based feedback on the environmental performance of buildings to engage, educate, and motivate occupants to better conserve environmental resources. At a conservative 10% savings, the payback time for the Building Dashboard is measured in months not years, and the return on that investment is typically greater than 50% annually. Video of the company can be seen here.
Definition: The Energy Efficiency category includes technologies that enable to save energy in industrial processes as well as at home. Saving energy reduces greenhouse gas emissions and has also a positive impact on expenditures on energy. Examples include advanced light sources and controls, smart / user-friendly energy management systems, energy-efficient water heaters and other appliances, high-efficiency industrial process systems, energy efficient technologies for construction, motors, pumps, and advanced space heating and cooling systems.
Example technologies include:
Energy Efficiency vs Energy Generation
If a company uses waste to create energy, like biogas from landfills, then it is Energy Generation category. If a company uses integrated systems for waste heat recovery, then it is Energy Efficiency category.
Energy Efficiency vs Information & Communications Technologies (ICT)
If a company develops a software for integrated energy or resource planning to reduce the usage of energy and greenhouse gas emissions, then it belongs to the Information & Communications Technologies category. If a company develops a technology, which requires less energy per product than other similar technologies then it should define itself as Energy Efficiency category company.
Example alumni companies
a) Indow Windows – winner of Energy Efficiency category in 2011. Indow Windows are thermal window inserts that press into place on the inside of a window frame with no nails, screws, or adhesives to give you double pane window performance at a fraction of the cost.
b) Abeo A/S – winner of the Global Ideas Competition in 2010. The company created a new method of constructing concrete buildings which can reduce cost and CO2 emissions by up to 50 percent. The company calls such buildings super-light structures. Video of the company can be seen here.
c) Alphabet Energy – a runner up for the National Grand Prize in 2009 and an Energy Efficiency category winner. Alphabet Energy captures wasted energy and converts it to something useful and 100% clean electricity using thermoelectric technology. Producers of waste heat can use this electricity to power their facilities, or sell it back to the grid. Video of the company can be seen here.
d) NiLa Inc. – winner of the Energy Efficiency category in 2007. Nila, Inc. develops and sells innovative and environmentally sustainable high-output solid-state lighting systems. Nila’s first market is the motion picture and television industry.
e) Adura Technologies – Winner of 2006 Energy Efficiency category and 2009 Alumni award. Adura Technologies is the leading provider of wireless lighting controls and energy management systems. Their mission is to provide cost-effective lighting control solutions for new and retrofitted commercial buildings. They help building owners, tenants and facility managers increase energy efficiency and enable granular control over a building’s lighting.
Definition: Chemicals and Advanced Materials is a new technology category in 2013. It comprises technology that reduces or eliminates the use or generation of hazardous substances in materials or chemical products. These chemicals and advanced materials include novel detergents, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, household products, lubricants, surface and finishing materials, packaging materials and fabric.
Example technologies include
Chemicals and Advanced Materials vs Energy Generation
If a company produces energy from biodagradable waste then it is Energy Generation company. However if the company produces raw product for chemicals from biowaste, then it belongs to Chemicals & Advanced Materials category.
If a company produces innovative solar panels with advanced materials, then it is still Energy Generation category. If it develops novel materials, which are more environmentally friendly and can be sold to renewable technology company, then it is Chemicals & Advanced Materials category.
Chemicals and Advanced Materials vs Transportation
If a company produces biofuels for transportation, then they should choose Transportation category. If however their main production articles are novel chemicals or household products from raw biofuels, then they should choose Chemicals and Advanced Materials category.
Examples of alumni companies:
a) Biosyntia – Winner of Global Ideas Competition in 2012. Biosyntia offers high-performance cell factories for fermentation of fine chemicals for manufacturing companies, enabling them to cut production costs by up to 80% while gaining a significantly greener profile. Their high-performance cell factories are developed by applying cut-edge and patentable enzyme screening technology.
b) Skip To Renew – finalist in 2012 category Air, Water, Waste. Company’s products match the criteria of the new category Chemicals and Advanced Materials (from 2013), which is why it serves as a good example of this sector. Skip To Renew develops and markets petroleum-free, non-toxic, biodegradable, plant- and algae-based lubricants for heavy machinery in industrial and manufacturing markets. Products are petroleum-free, non-toxic, and biodegradable. It enables compliance (when applicable), eliminates disposal costs of hazardous waste, and reduces liabilities related to spills, leaks, or improper disposal.
c) EarthClean Corporation – runner up for the National Grand Prize in 2010. The product changes water into a readily-biodegradable, non-toxic gel that is pumped using standard fire-fighting equipment. . The company’s first product, TetraKO, is a direct response to the growing concern over the toxicity of existing firefighting foams, super absorbent polymer-based fire suppressants, and phosphorus and ammonia dioxide–based retardants.
d) MicroMidas – winner of the 2009 category Air, Water & Waste and a runner up for the National Grand Prize. Company’s products match the criteria of the new category Chemicals and Advanced Materials (from 2013), which is why it serves as a good example of this sector. Micromidas is converting the carbon in organic waste water into biodegradable plastic, solving the problem of waste water treatment while producing high-performance bioplastic that can be used just like conventional plastics. While developing their product the company has raised $13 million in its latest round of financing.
e) Aurora Biofuels - finalist in 2006 competition in Transportation category and a runner up for the National Grand Prize. They are are transforming algae into a super crop, capable of providing the global population’s growing needs. They are building farms that produce an algal aqua crop that’s brimming with the nutrients and essential fatty acids. The product can be used in pharmaceuticals, health, food and beverages, fish feed (aquaculture), but also in producing biodiesel for transportation (low commercial quantities). Company’s products match the criteria of the new category Chemicals and Advanced Materials (from 2013), which is why it serves as a good example of this sector.
Definition: The Information & Communications Technologies category includes companies whose primary business is built around computing hardware or software design improvements or the application of information technology, web, mobile or social applications (including emerging “clean web” applications) to reduce resource consumption and environmental impacts.
There are many potential overlaps with other categories. The distinction we make on classification is that if the primary business value is built upon the data or application, they belong in Web & IT. If the business value includes specific hardware, controls or other technology specifically targeted at the market that is complemented by data or applications, they go in the vertical (Green Building, Transporation, etc).
Example technologies include:
Agriculture-Water-Waste vs Information & Communications Technology
1. Satellite and sensor information subscription on temperature, evapotranspiration rates, weather predictions, etc to manage irrigation controls to reduce water consumption. Target customers: farms, municipalities, resorts.
Green Building vs Web & IT
2. Building energy use modeling and compliance web applications used for LEED and other compliance requirements.
3. Building HVAC controls with web management interface.
Transportation vs Web & IT
4. Website providing information for electric vehicle owners detailing charging station locations, status, fees, etc.
5. Web portal pooling info on rideshare, allowing users to post need or ride availability.
If #1 deploys the sensor network and/or irrigation controllers and uses the data to control their systems, they’re AWW. If it’s just a data subscription service to aid decision making for the user to adjust irrigation practices, they’re ICT.
If #3 produces the HVAC control systems or interfaces to the building control systems and the web interface adds differential value, they’re a Green Building company.
If #4 is a network of charging stations deployed by the company & the web added to the value of that network, it’s a transportation company. If it’s just aggregated data offered as a subscription or social media app, it’s ICT.
Examples of alumni companies
a) RideScout – finalist in 2012 in Transportation category. Ride Scout is aggregating all available supplier agnostic transportation solutions and rank-orders them according to user’s personal preferences. Since company’s solutions match the criteria of the new category Clean Web & Information Technology (from 2013), it serves as a good example of this sector.
b) Power Assure - winner of the 2008 former Smart Power category and 2008 Sustainability Award. Company’s solutions match the criteria of the new category Clean Web & Information Technology (from 2013), which is why it serves as a good example of this sector. Power Assure software solutions allow data center managers to collect, synthesize and analyze the overwhelming amount of raw data available from facilities and IT equipment and turn it into useful business information for making decisions in real time. Power Assure delivers rapid time-to-savings with easy implementation, minimal management requirements, and integration with all existing systems and equipment. Delivered through a secure cloud-based subscription model, the solution can be implemented quickly and offers a fully-integrated customer dashboard for easy management.
c) Syncromatics – winner of the 2007 Transportation category. Company’s solutions match the criteria of the new category Clean Web & Information Technology (from 2013), which is why it serves as a good example of this sector. Syncromatics is a provider of transit ITS solutions, specializing in bus tracking, automated passenger counting, passenger information systems and route analytics. Syncromatics is based in Southern California, and serves transit systems nationwide.
Definition: ‘Green Building’ focuses on reducing the environmental impact of construction by producing innovative, energy- and material efficient building materials. This category also encompasses improved design or construction practices. Examples include improved site planning, water management systems, reduction of hazardous materials in building construction or operation, use of new environmentally friendly or recycled materials, systems to improve indoor environmental quality and systems for improved waste reduction or disposal.
Example products and technologies include
Green Building vs Energy Efficiency
If a company produces pavers and bricks that require less energy to produce and thus generate less CO2 in their manufacturing, then they should choose Energy Efficiency category. If a company produces pavers that are made of recycled waste, then it is a Green Building category.
Example alumni companies
a) GR Green – Winner of the Green Building category in 2012. GR Green produces eco-friendly roofing options from recycled plastic and limestone, they also beat the competition on cost, aesthetics and performance. Every GR Green Slate or Cedar roof uses 44,000 plastic bags, 4,000 milk bottles and waste limestone to make a roof that lasts 50+ years. Video of the company can be seen here.
b) Whole Trees Structure – Winner of the Green Building category in 2011. Whole Trees Structure manufactures structural building systems made from round timber, the waste product of sustainably managed forests.
c) 7 AC Technologies – finalist in Green Building category in 2010. 7AC Technologies, Inc. develops revolutionary Ultra Efficient Liquid Desiccant HVAC systems for Commercial and Industrial (C&I) buildings delivering a 50%+ reduction in energy costs over conventional HVAC units.
d) Tru2earth – finalist in 2009 competition in Green Building category. Tru2earth designs and manufactures the Life Cycle Roof, a 50+ year roofing tile made from recycled PET plastic for environmentally conscious consumers, architects, and builders. Video of the company can be seen here.
e) Stramit Strawboard (Stramit USA) – finalist in 2010 Green Building category. Making compacted green strawboard building panels with better insulation and higher strength properties as a sustainable alternative to concrete, bricks and gypsum board.
f) BottleStone – winner of the 2008 Green Building category. BottleStone produces ceramic stone surface material made of 80% recycled waste glass.
Definition: The transportation category covers innovative technology that not only improve our means and ways of mobility, but also reduces environmental impact of mobility markets. Start-ups that are focused on electric vehicles, motorbikes, aviation, trains and fleet logistics should choose this category.
Transportation encompasses transportation and mobile technology applications that improve fuel efficiency, produce biofuels for transportation, reduce air pollution, reduce oil consumption or reduce vehicle travel (not limited to automobiles). Technologies are applied directly to transportation systems or vehicles. Examples include new vehicles and new types of transport services and infrastructure, efficient and portable batteries, fuel cells and bio-based transportation fuels and use of information technologies.
Example technologies include
Fleet management hardware and software systems
Routing and data solutions for public transportation operators
Hybrid motor systems
Storage of energy specifically applied to vehicles
Plug in hybrid vehicles
All electric vehicles
Fuel cell vehicles
NOX/SOX reductions for ocean going vessels
Diesel particulate matter filters for Locomotives
Flex fuel engines and applications
Drivetrain conversion kits
Monitoring and control of driver behavior
Transportation vs Energy Generation
Companies that are focused on energy generation and usage for specifically transportation, belong to Transportation category.
Transportation vs Information & Communications Technologies (ICT)
If a company develops new car pooling application that reduces car usage and raises environmental awareness, it belongs in Information & Communications Technologies. If a company uses IT solutions for fleet management, it’s a Transportation company.
Example alumni companies
a) HEVT – Winner of the National Grand Prize in 2012. HEVT has developed disruptive alternatives to induction and permanent magnet motors. HEVT’s patented switched reluctance motors (SRMs) provide high-performance alternatives to induction and permanent magnet motor/generators with increased reliability and disruptive cost benefits. Video of the company can be found here.
b) Gridtest Systems – finalists in Transportation category in 2011. Gridtest Systems provides the first independent test equipment for (Electric Vehicle) EV Charging stations. The test cases are automated and produce detailed test reports. We expect users can reduce testing time by a factor of 10. The EV Emulator tool can be used for R&D Lab Testing Installation & maintenance testing Manufacturing end of line testing.
c) Mission Motors – Winner of the Alumni Award in 2010 and Transportation category finalist in 2007. Mission Motors is a supplier of advanced electric power train technology. The company builds optimized power train solutions that enable higher performance for electric and hybrid vehicles.
d) Green Lite Motors – finalist in Transportation category in 2009. Green Lite Motors has prototyped a breakthrough commuter vehicle that delivers 100 mile-per-gallon efficiency. Their innovative design combines the safety and comfort of a car with the fun and convenience of a motorcycle. Metropolitan customers will enjoy express lane privileges, powered by the plug-in hybrid system, with 250 miles of range and 85 mph freeway cruising. Video of the company can be found here.
e) Electra Drive – winner in Transportation category in 2008. ElectraDrive is developing a family of plug & play electric drive trains to expand the availability of electric-drive options to the vehicles that need them most: pickups, vans, SUVs and large sedans. It can be moved easily from vehicle to vehicle, and the car that it is attached to can drive solely under electric power with its motor turned off entirely. It can be powered at about 1/5 the cost of motor fuel, and ElectraDrive gives it a projected payback around 5 years.
Definition: Applications in the Agriculture, Water & Waste category focus on improving food security, resource availability, conservation and pollution control.
Agriculture encompasses innovative farming technologies that reduce the need for resources needed to produce food, improves supply chain and ensures sustainable food security. Agriculture examples include technologies and solutions that increase yield size, soil fertility, harvesting efficiency or decrease the need for resources (like water and fertilizers), land use, reduce energy use for machinery, agricultural leftovers, nutrients runoff and degradation of biodiversity and habitats.
Waste focuses on cradle-to-cradle approaches to reduction, reuse and recycling technologies, as well as innovative business models and approaches to materials usage. Waste examples include: waste management equipment; sorting; resource recovery processes; pollution prevention, control, and treatment technology; as well as waste reduction through innovative recycling processes and new recyclable materials, such as bio-based plastics, reduced packaging; and decrease resources used for packaging such as ink, plastic and paper.
Water refers to innovative technological solutions which address drinking water distribution, usage or treatment. Solutions can include purification-, water saving and monitoring systems.
This category also includes companies that are focused on air quality improvement. Air examples include services, instruments and equipment related to emission control, treatment or reduction technologies, creative approaches to greenhouse gas reduction, including carbon conversion and sequestration.
Example technologies include
Agriculture, Water & Waste vs Information & Communications Technologies (ICT)
If a company produces software / sensors that enable precise spreading of fertilizers to exact locations in the fields where they are needed, then it is Agriculture, Water & Waste category. If a company develops water evaluation and planning software for freshwater management, then it belongs in Information & Communications Technologies.
Examples alumni companies
a) Red Ox Systems – finalist and a winner in former Air, Water & Waste category in 2012 .Red Ox develops and commercializes innovative technologies to create both environmental and economic benefits. Their first product, the Electrochemical Desalination Cell, produces sodium bicarbonate and hydrochloric acid from saline waste water. In the process, they desalinate the waste water, produce electricity and sequester carbon dioxide. Video of the company can be seen here.
b) Biofiltro – winner of the Global Ideas Competition in 2011. The BioFiltro® is a unique effluent management system, developed to process waste water from the following sectors: urban and rural communities; dairy farm sheds; meat and small goods processing; fish and poultry processing; dairy factories; wine industry.
c) PK Clean – winner in former Air, Water & Waste category in 2011. PK Clean turns landfilled plastics into oil market, from selling the renewable fuel they produce to refineries. PK Clean is able to transform the most painful form of waste into the most useful type of energy.
d) Puralytics – winner of the National Grand Prize in 2010 and also a finalist in former Air, Water & Waste category. Puralytics uses light (from LEDs or natural sunlight) to create processes that totally remove contaminants from the environment without any wastewater or chemicals. Video of the company can be seen here.
e) BioVantage resources – Sustainability Award Winner in 2010 and a finalist in former Air, Water & Waste category. BioVantage Resources delivers algae inoculation systems for water reclamation. We provide a “green” alternative to waste water lagoon aeration that significantly reduces power consumption and greenhouse gas emissions while more completely remediating wastes.
f) Microvi Biotech – Winner of the former Air, Water & Waste category in 2007. Microvi’s technologies use laser sharp precision delivering fully waste free solutions. Microvi’s water technologies work simply and effectively with low total costs, low energy requirements, and remarkable stability and control.
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