EcoFactor of Redwood City, California beat out 277 other companies to carry off top honors at the 2009 Cleantech Open. EcoFactor won with a software system that can communicate with home thermostats to reduce energy use.
The runners-up were also Northern California companies: Alphabet Energy of Berkeley, which is developing a system of generating energy from waste heat; and Micromidas of West Sacramento, which turns carbon from wastewater into bio-plastics.
EcoFactor will receive a combination of cash and services worth $250,000. The runners-up, along with 10 other finalists in the competition, each will get a package of cash and services worth $50,000.
Perhaps even more importantly, finalists and semifinalists get to work with mentors who can steer them through the difficulties of bringing their ideas to market. Cleantech Open organizers say about 84% of the startups that have gone through the open's mentoring process are still in business, and program alumni have raised more than $140 million in private capital.
Founded in 2005, the competition’s corporate sponsors include Autodesk, Google, PG&E and, as of this week, Chevron.