June 10, 2014

Two Maine startups selected as semifinalists in regional cleantech competition

file PHOTo / Tim greenway
file PHOTo / Tim greenway
Patrick Costin of Canal 5 Studio in Portland is testing sustainability software created by Introspective Systems co-founders Caryl Johnson, middle, and Kay Aikin. They are standing in front of the Hyatt Place Portland where sustainable building design guides construction.

Two Maine companies are among 38 semifinalists chosen to compete in a regional clean technology business incubator program that will help give the startups an extra leg up.

It could even come with a large cash prize and national visibility.

Introspective Systems of Peaks Island and Parent Technology Group of Windham were chosen out of 90 applicants to enroll in the Cleantech Open's Northeast division, which will give them access to mentors, entrepreneurship education and funding opportunities. Cleantech Open, a nonprofit organization, seeks to "find, fund and foster entrepreneurs with ideas to solve our greatest environmental and energy challenges," according to its website.

Ingrid Hartman, spokeswoman for Cleantech Open Northeast, told Mainebiz that inclusion in the business incubator program is significant because many clean technology companies cannot promise a fast return on investment and therefore may not be able attract traditional venture capital funding like other startups would.

"It's risky from an investment perspective," she said. "Our goal as an accelerator is to get companies through this difficult stage to a point where they have the connections they need to [build their own] ecosystem. Our roles is to connect them to the resources."

Introspective Systems is developing a suite of software tools that aim to help architects and designers create sustainable buildings during the concept and design phases. The company's founders told Mainebiz in June 2013 that they are counting on the growing sustainable construction design market to drive its business.

Parent Technology Group is developing technologies in tandem with the University of Southern Maine to improve the performance of photovoltaic textiles, according to the Maine Technology Institute, which provided the company a $25,000 seed grant last year.

Cleantech Open Northeast's 2014 program formally begins on June 17 for a two-day summit at the Cleantech Open East Coast Academy at Barnard College in New York City. The Northeast Regional Final Judging and Awards Gala will then be held from Oct. 27-28 at Boston University School of Management and will culminate with eight or nine regional finalists based on the merit of a 10-minute pitch given to a panel of judges.

The regional finalists will then go compete at the National Final Judging and Global Forum from Nov. 13-14 in San Jose, California, where the winner will walk away with $250,000. Four regional winners will each receive $20,000 in in-kind services and cash.

Hartman said companies that were accepted into this year's Cleantech Open were judged based on their team makeup, the technology they're developing and opportunities for commercialization of their product. She said some semifinalists already have commercialized products while others are still working on prototypes.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the cash prize amount for the national competition. It was a sourcing error.


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