Pacific Northwest-based agtech entrepreneurs now have another option to help their companies accelerate growth.
Oregon BEST and the CleanTech Alliance today unveiled Cascadia CleanTech Accelerator, a new business accelerator designed for early-stage clean technology startups, including those with agricultural applications.
Participating companies will have access to mentorship, resources, and competition prize money to help grow their startups. The accelerator, which is non-dilutive, will kick off in June and last 12 weeks. Companies must be incorporated—or in the process of doing so, and have no more than $1 million total funding to date.
The program will focus on business modeling, customer discovery and product development, go-to-market strategy, financing and funding, and the industry connections needed to succeed. Each participating startup will receive mentorship, industry networking connections, hands-on business and financing workshops to assist with business model creation, customer discovery assistance, and opportunities for brand visibility.
The companies will compete for three cash prizes totaling $10,000, plus in-kind services from accelerator partners.
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“We are looking for companies that are developing technologies that address environmental challenges and the challenges faced by a growing global population and urbanization,” David Kenney, president and executive director of Oregon BEST tells AgFunderNews. “Also, importantly, we are looking for entrepreneurs who are “coachable” and truly interested in finding markets and growing their business.”
“Entrepreneurs that are smart enough to create great ideas—and then pivot when they find better ways of accomplishing their missions,” echoed Tom Ranken, president and CEO of the CleanTech Alliance.
For Kenney, the broad scope of technologies that Cascadia covers, including many emerging agriculture technologies, sets Cascadia apart.
A number of academic and research institutions including the US Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, University of Washington, Washington State University, Western Washington University also make the region a major draw for entrepreneurs.
“The Pacific Northwest already has a thriving cluster of clean technology companies, large and small, covering a wide range of industries including solar, wind, and biomass energy generation; precision agriculture; energy efficiency; energy storage; water; green building; and others,” says Kenney. Ranken agrees, describing the Pacific Northwest as an ideal location for cleantech innovation.
Ranken would like to see 20 companies in the program by 2017 with over half of them achieving long-term success. “In 10 years, we want to have a majority of companies still in business and successful. That’s how you build a successful cleantech economy for the region,” he says.
Oregon BEST funds and assists cleantech startups in the creation of new products and services. And it has funded a range of different agtech startups including TryEco, which is producing drought defending biodegradable superabsorbent polymers for farmers.
Founded in 2007, the Clean Tech Alliance represents over 300 companies and organizations throughout Washington. According to the group, Washington’s cleantech industry employs some 90,000 workers and encompasses Fortune 50 players backed by over $1 billion in venture capital investment.
The application deadline for the inaugural round is May 15, 2016. To apply, click here.
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