European Cleantech Challenge : What happened to previous participants ?

Are you still hesitating on whether you should participate in the European Cleantech Challenge or not ? Sure, meeting business angels and VCs in an International Roadshow sounds like a great idea. However, is it worth the travel time and cost spent for all these Arena Meetings? Well, let’s take a look at what happened to Agroils Technology, a renewable energy company who participated in the Cleantech Challenge. Last March, we were glad to report that the Italian start-up, based in Florence, Italy had raised about $1.5 Million (€1.1 M) in the venture financing round. The investment was provided by X-Capital S.p.A. ($1.2 M/ €0.9 M) and Italian Angels ($0.27 M / €0.2 M) – Source: Biofuels International, Italy.

Agroils Technologies focuses on innovative processes enabling the production of superior quality biofuels, animal feed and molecules of pharmaceutical interest from no-food Jatropha energy crop. The Italian company intends to use the proceeds from the financing to develop its technology to produce biofuel, protein biomass for animal feed and Jatropha. Their solution has already helped many Jatropha farmers to optimize their production in Senegal, Nigeria and Dominican Republic.

This is only one of many success stories of start-ups that have successfully closed their funding round following the program. Give yourself a chance to succeed as well : ! Please note that registration and submission deadline is August 24th.


A Model for Sustainable Design?

Erwin Burth, Autodesk business development manager for clean technology, discusses the advantages of digital prototyping for realising advancements in the clean tech sector – and helping businesses bring creative visions to life in order to secure vital investment

Clean tech is a bold and burgeoning field. From alternative fuels, to energy efficiency, water treatment, transportation, innovators in the sector are seeking to transform our current infrastructure into one that addresses basic human needs – our need for light and heat, our need for water, our need for shelter, and so on – more intelligently, in a manner that conserves resources, reduces pollution and respects resource limits.

Technology has an important role to play in realising the radical new design needed to achieve these testing ambitions. For this reason, many clean tech companies are not just taking an existing technology and improving on it, but rather developing an entirely new type of technology altogether – a process which, by necessity, requires extensive trial and error.

Here digital prototyping can confer vital advantage – both in achieving faster iterations and achieving crucial cost savings. Using conceptual design, engineering, and manufacturing teams now have the ability to virtually explore a complete product before it is manufactured. In facilitating this, digital prototyping makes the whole product design and development process both streamlined and efficient.

Digital prototyping also reduces the inherent risk in the design process, helping to ensure that clean tech companies make their mistakes on the computer desktop – where the cost is low – and not in the factory or the marketplace. An engineer can try out many design iterations to test if a digital prototype works – at a much lower cost with fewer materials – and have confidence that the physical prototype will perform properly.

To date, digital prototyping has been used across a range of clean tech industries and for a vast spectrum of purposes. In the tidal sector, for example, one firm employed 3D mechanical design software to test the energy transmission mechanism in a device that utilised using oscillating horizontal hydrofoils in place of more traditional rotating blades. In this instance, placing the hydrofoils into a 3D model and running a simulation enabled the engineers to rapidly optimise the design.

Another company seeking to increase production and improve efficiency in its pilot ‘carbon negative’ cement plant used 3D software to digitally design and visualise the performance of the plant’s planned automated control systems under simulated real-world conditions – all before the systems were physically built and installed.

In the automotive sector, a firm developing a fuel-efficient, two-passenger hybrid vehicle built from widely available materials used digital prototyping to create realistic 3D renderings of the car, making them better able to pitch its idea to investors and show them a photorealistic depiction of what the car will look like – without the need to build a prototype.

In this way, as well as accelerating innovation and reducing costs, digital prototyping can, crucially, help clean tech companies to communicate their vision to potential prospects, strategic partners and investors – something which is critical to the success of most clean tech companies.

As the old adage goes, a picture is worth a thousand words – particularly when building and communicating something that has never been built before. While the concept of a ‘mobile biodiesel refinery’ would understandably be tough for any potential investor to comprehend – the idea becomes infinitely more digestible when brought to life with an animated 3D rendering of the refinery generated from a digital model.


Skipso Weekly Digest: Cleantech Start-ups

Here are Skipso’s top Cleantech companies for this week:

Cleantech Company: Verdezyne

Location: San Diego, US

Cleantech Sector: Biofuels

Description: Founded in 2005, Verdezyne, formerly known as CODA Genomics, is a privately-held company that integrates its proprietary core technologies to direct the evolution of novel metabolic pathways for cost effective commercial production of biofuels and platform chemicals. Investors in Verdezyne include OVP Venture Partners, Monitor Ventures, Tech Coast Angels and Life Science Angels.


Cleantech Company: Grid Net

Location: San Francisco, US

Cleantech Sector: Smart Grid

Description: Founded in 2006, Grid Net is a leading global real-time, all-IP Smart Grid and Smart Home software platforms provider for utilities, partners, and customers. Grid Net platforms are designed to integrate substation automation, distribution automation, smart meters, demand response, and load management with electric vehicles, buildings, and homes to increase grid reliability, energy efficiency, renewable energy use, and customer satisfaction while reducing capital and operating costs. Grid Net platforms are utility-grade reliable, scalable and built to meet regulatory and governmental Smart Grid interoperability and cyber-security standards.

Cleantech Company: KITEnergy

Location: Turin, Italy

Cleantech Sector: Wind

Description: Kitenergy is an innovative technology to convert high-altitude wind energy into electricity, by exploiting the flight of automatically controlled tethered airfoils (like power kites used for surfing or sailing). The kites operate between 500 and 1000 m above the ground, where strong and persistent winds blow practically everywhere in the world, and electricity is generated at ground level by converting the traction forces acting on the tethers into mechanical and electrical power, using suitable rotating mechanisms and electrical generators.



Cleantech Company: Aquamarine Power

Location: Edinburgh, Scotland

Cleantech Sector: Marine, Wave

Description: Aquamarine Power is a wave energy company, with head offices in Edinburgh, Scotland and further operations in Orkney and Northern Ireland. The company is currently developing its flagship technology, an innovative hydro-electric wave energy converter, known as Oyster. Aquamarine Power’s goal is to develop commercial Oyster wave farms around the world.



Cleantech Company: Watrec

Location: Forssa, Finland

Cleantech Sector: Waste Management

Description: Watrec Ltd is specialized in environmental technology and producing renewable energy from waste and industry byproducts in biogas plants. Core business is to provide solutions for customers who have challenges with their wastes and wastewaters. Our company has had a high variety of different projects relating to environmental and energy issues. Our clients are in industry, energy, and waste treatment sector, and also in agriculture.

For more Cleantech companies and start-ups visit Skipso’s Cleantech Marketplace.