Student-run companies selected as semi-finalists in Clean Tech Open

Two ASU student-led companies – reNature Inc. and SmrtEn – have placed as semifinalists in the Clean Tech Open’s 2012 Rocky Mountain Regional competition.

The Cleantech Open, the world’s largest cleantech accelerator program, holds regional competitions to filter semifinalists into their national competition. The Rocky Mountain regional competition included more than 50 entries from six states, including Arizona, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. The 20 semifinalists will now compete for regional prizes totaling $20,000 in cash and services as well as a bid to the national competition.

“Cleantech is a core focus of our economic development efforts in the 21st century, and the Rocky Mountain region is seeing an abundance of entrepreneurs who are developing new and better technologies that make us a national cleantech leader,” said Richard Franklin, Rocky Mountain regional director of the Cleantech Open. “I salute the semifinalist winners today for their vision and commitment to building long-term economic growth and the success of a sustainable economy.”

Regional semi-finalist SmrtEn applies advances in cloud computing and Artificial Intelligence to address the energy challenge by offering Decision as a Service. Their debut service remotely programs home thermostats on a continual basis to save homeowners up to 50 percent of their heating and cooling costs. By aggregating the data to smooth the peak-demand for electricity, SmrtEn can also help utility companies reduce their Carbon Dioxide emissions by as much as 27 percent.

“Participating in the CleanTech open was an eye-opening experience. I realized that it was not good enough to have a great idea that would save the planet” said Som Shahapurkar, founder and CEO of SmrtEn. “I learned that my Pitch needed revamping, my business plan needed work and my financial projections could use more substance. I learned that programs like the Cleantech Open and the Edson program can help me get through these issues and advance SmrtEn to do what I originally intended for he business: to save energy and make sure the planet remains a beautiful place for the next generation to make something incredible”.

reNature Inc., also a regional semi-finalist, is working to close the nutrient loop. reNature's process seeks to keep food scraps and compostable waste out of landfills. The by-products of food scraps and compostable waste are natural fertilizers and polymers that have a lower disposal costs for organizations and municipalities and can reduced environmental liability.

“We are eager to participate in the 2012 Cleantech Open,” said David A. Metoyer, CEO of reNature Inc. “Being a semi-finalist in the Cleantech Open will provide us with key industry insight on how to deliver a marketable product backed by a business model that investors can get excited about."

reNature and SmrtEn are both student let startups that are currently enrolled in the Edson Student Entrepreneurship Initiative at ASU. The Edson program, which provides seed funding, office space and mentor-led business assistance, is a signature initiative within ASU’s Venture Catalyst. ASU Venture Catalyst is the ASU unit that works with high-potential startup companies, both inside and outside the university. The Edson Initiative and ASU Venture Catalyst are both strategic units of ASU’s Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development.

“The Cleantech Open has undoubtedly been a fantastic opportunity for our clean tech startups within the Edson program to obtain additional seed funding, mentorship, and support,” said Brent Sebold, venture manager for the Edson Program. “We are very proud that our Edson companies have done so well in this competition and are excited to see the level of cleantech innovations coming out of the southwestern states.”

“ASU has a deep pool of talented innovators who are experimenting with commercializing solar, biomass, and other forward-thinking clean technologies” said Gordon McConnell, associate vice president of Innovation and Entrepreneurship with ASU Venture Catalyst.  “Many of these ventures are born within ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability and other clean tech research labs across all four campuses.  ASU aims to continue to excel in the clean tech sector within the coming years and with the significant jump in the percentage of ASU and Arizona applications to the Cleantech Open this year, I’d say we’re well on our way!”