Overview


  • World-class mentoring: receive intensive, tailored mentoring from experienced business experts and gain access to one of the world's only cleantech-specific expert networks
  • Prizes: U.S. Cleantech Open plans to award over $500,000 in cash, investment and in-kind services to the winners of its showcasing events. This includes: 
    • Up to $250,000 in cash prizes to winners of our regional and national showcasing competitions in the U.S.
    • Up to 5 awards of up to $5,000 in cash at the Regional level
    • Up to 5 awards of up to $10,000 at the National level
    • Up to $50,000 in a favorable-terms investment for one U.S. National Grand Prize Winner
    • Up to $300,000 of in-kind services - each cash/investment award will be matched with up to an equal amount in services
  • Networking: connect to a powerful national network of influencers and entrepreneurs
  • Visibility: showcase your startup to investors, strategic partners, and customers through specialized connection events
  • Hands-on training: 12-week series of intensive workshops and bootcamps to launch your startup to the next level

*Subject to available funding

Step One: Register as a user.

Click here to register.

Step Two: Complete a startup profile or join an existing team.

After registration at a Regional site, log into that site, get started by clicking on the “Apply" or visit your Startup Dashboard to submit a new startup profile. At this point, you have the option to create a new startup profile, or join an existing startup. Please only join an existing startup if you are already a part of that team. Your startup profile will not be displayed publicly until the accelerator begins in May.

Step Three: Pay your application fee.

After creating your startup profile, click on the “Apply" button, or visit your Startup Dashboard and click “Submit". You will be prompted to pay the application fee before you start filling out the application itself. Please see the Dates and Fees section below for more details. Note that if you would like to preview the application questions and begin working on the application BEFORE submitting your payment, we have provided a downloadable version of the application in the Application Toolkit section below.

Step Four: Submit your completed application before the final deadline.

Although you can pay your application fee and start your application as early as you want to, you are allowed to edit it up until the final deadline of May 1 or you submit it. We recommend asking our team any application questions as early as possible, attending our Q&A sessions, and getting a mentor or advisor to review the application as early as possible to avoid a last-minute submission.

Please complete the application by visiting your Startup Dashboard, opening up your application, and clicking “Preview and Submit' at the bottom of the form. Make sure to review to make sure all of the details are correct, and then press the final “Submit" button at the bottom of the page.

Step Five: Receive judging feedback and acceptance decision.

After the final deadline of May 1st, you can expect to hear back from us in mid-May about whether or not you were accepted into the accelerator. Regardless of your acceptance decision, our panel of expert judges will review your application and provide you with valuable judging feedback.

Application Deadline and Fee

The application deadline for the 2017 program is May 1, 2017.  Some Regions may consider earlier admission, so we encourage you to apply early.  Please check with the Cleantech Open leaders in your region to understand if early admission applies to you.

The application fee per company is: $150 (regular), $100 (student).

*To qualify as a student, the team must have a full-time student as the Team Leader and at least half the team must be students.

Participation Fee

If you are accepted into the program, the fee for participation in the Cleantech Open is $1200 for up to two members participating per company (or $950 for student-led teams). This covers several months' worth of training, mentoring, and event participation, including receptions and meals. Travel costs and other expenses will not be reimbursed.

Need-based scholarships are available on a case-by-case basis - scholarship applications will be distributed after acceptance into the accelerator.

1) Technology

Your technology must fit into one of these categories.

  • Energy Generation
  • Energy Distribution & Storage
  • Energy Efficiency
  • Chemicals & Advanced Materials
  • Information & Communications Technologies (ICT)
  • Green Building
  • Transportation
  • Agriculture, Water & Waste

Confused about how your technology fits? Read our FAQ

2) Funding

Cleantech Open supports early stage startups.  Most startups in our program have less than $1.5MM in funding from private investors or less than $10MM in funding from family, friends, and grants.  There are exceptions, however, and we encourage you to apply even if your funding levels are higher.  We'll evaluate your fit with the program holistically, considering your company's ability to benefit from the program.

3) Team

You must have at least two members.

4) Location

Much of the value Cleantech Open creates for participating startups is centered around relationships and network connections.  For this reason, it is important for your team to physically participate in the Cleantech Open events over the program year, including the National Academy (East or West), Business Clinics, Workshops, Networking events, Regional Awards & Innovation Showcase, and our Global Forum (now part of Cleantech Week).    

5) Participation

At least one team member must actively engage with the accelerator by participating in meetings or events that are part of the program, and by submitting final deliverables before Final Judging. There are only two mandatory events at the regional level: 1) the West Coast/East Coast Academies (you choose one) and 2) the Regional Final Judging event. If your team wins at the regional level, you are also required to attend the Global Forum.

6) Conflict of Interest

You MAY NOT apply if you are an accelerator volunteer, judge, expert, advisor, mentor, chair, regional director, or if you are in any other way involved with the organization or operation of the accelerator. Immediate family members of the aforementioned people are also ineligible.

You MAY apply if you are affiliated with the accelerator's sponsors and/or partners, as long as you or a family member are not directly involved in the operation of the Cleantech Open, as above.

If you are accepted as an entrepreneur or team participating in the Cleantech Open accelerator, individuals involved in the running of the Cleantech Open may advise or mentor you, within the rules of the accelerator, but such individuals may not take a direct interest in your company (such as an equity stake or a paid position) and may not participate as team members until after the Global Forum in the year of your participation. 

For our organization, clean tech has a broad definition and encompasses a lot of different technology categories. In addition, startups who get into our program are often at very diverse stages of development. In other words, there is certainly no 'perfect' candidate for the accelerator.

When judges look at your application, they will be evaluating your entry on the following criteria:

  • Team Is the team promising and credible? Have gaps been identified clearly? Do they seem able to attract additional quality team members?
  • Technology Is the technology potentially disruptive? Does it demonstrate the potential for a sustainable competitive advantage?
  • Market Is the potential market size large enough for sustained business growth, and aligned with the expectations of possible funding sources?

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