Copyright 2024 SPARK

Justin Otani (left) and Russell Conard (right), co-founders of Ornicept, pose with the award at the SPARK Central incubator.

World’s largest cleantech accelerator selects top regional startups to present at the ‘Academy Awards of Cleantech’ next month in Silicon Valley.

Minneapolis – October 18, 2013: The Midwest region of the Cleantech Open start-up business accelerator program announced the three finalists that will represent the region at the national Cleantech Open Global Forum. The top companies, including Akhan Tech, based in Chicago, IL, Prairie AquaTech, based in Brookings, SD, and Ornicept based in Ann Arbor, MI, were selected from a class of 21 cleantech entrepreneurs that have been working with the Cleantech Open for the last five months to hone their business models and prepare for investor and client meetings.

The finalists were announced Thursday night at the conclusion of the 4th Annual Midwest Innovation Summit event in Minneapolis, which convened over 75 regional innovators including the 2013 accelerator class of start-ups with investors and corporate managers, media, civic leaders and many other influencers from throughout the Midwestern business community.

In addition to the regional finalists, Garden Fresh Farms, based in Maplewood, MN, received the regional sustainability award, an honor given to the company most effectively incorporating a triple-bottom-line approach to scaling its business, and Effortless Energy based in Chicago, IL, won the People’s Choice award for best two-minute pitch, as voted on by the general public.

Each regional finalist won a prize package with a mix of investment and in-kind services worth up to $20,000. The three finalist companies and sustainability winner will present at the Global Forum, the Academy Awards of Cleantech on November 19-21, 2013 in Calif., to compete for a grand prize of $200,000 in investment and services. All 21 Midwest businesses that completed the five-month accelerator program will be invited to participate at the Global Forum as exhibitors and meet investors from across the nation.

“This year’s Midwest Accelerator featured one of our strongest classes yet,” said Justin Kaster, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Midwest division of Cleantech Open. “The experts that joined us in Minneapolis the past couple days, including many investors, were impressed. The companies that were selected for the awards are diverse geographically and are focused on different markets. It is a great display of how the cleantech approach to doing business is penetrating a variety of industries.”

Details on each of the Midwest Cleantech Open companies that received awards at the Summit include:

Regional Finalist: Ornicept
Ann Arbor, MI
GeoTraverse product eliminates costly data collection bottlenecks and elegantly brings data from the field to the cloud.

Regional Finalist: Prairie AquaTech
Brookings, SD
Animal health and nutrition company focused on upgrading agriculture processing of by-products.

Regional Finalist: Akhan Tech
Hoffman Estates, IL
Energy efficient diamond semiconductor devices for consumer electronics.

Sustainability Winner: Garden Fresh Farms
Maplewood, MN
OEM for national network of indoor hydroponic farms.

People’s Choice Winner: Effortless Energy
Chicago, IL
Finance and software-as-a-service that allows contractors to better serve the home energy efficiency market.

About The Cleantech Open
Since 2006, the Cleantech Open, a 501(c)(3) non-profit and the world’s largest cleantech accelerator, has been working to find, fund and foster the most promising cleantech startups on the planet. To date, over 800 Cleantech Open alumni companies across the U.S. have raised more than $800 million in external funding and created thousands of jobs. A core goal of the organization is also to convene key industry stakeholders at the local, regional and national level in an attempt to drive innovation in the cleantech space broadly.

Learn more at the Midwest Innovation Summit at and Cleantech Open at – Vimeo – Facebook – Twitter: @mwcleantechopen

The Cleantech Open is made possible by generous support from our Global Partner, Chevron; National Education Partner, University of Phoenix; and National Sponsors, Wells Fargo and PARC. The Midwest Accelerator Program is additionally sponsored by annual sponsors Faegre Baker Daniels, LLPNextEnergyMinnesota Department of CommerceBillion & Armitage LLPTrue North Venture PartnersAndcor, and event sponsors and partners Future360.tvAgstarEnergy Foundry and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.


Media contact:
Justin Kaster, Executive Director
Midwest Cleantech Open

– See more at: