400 innovators, technologists, investors and ecosystem supporters joined us in Denver the first week of November for the 2015 Industry Growth Forum! Months of planning and organization efforts go in to supporting the annual event, but all of the active participants are the ones who bring the Forum to life in the halls, side meetings, and sessions that take place over the two days.
The 30 selected startups made their pitch during the Forum to panels of expert investor judges, with three entrepreneurial companies eventually receiving the 2015 Clean Energy Venture Awards.
The Best Venture award went to local startup Lightning Hybrids. A long-time attendee of the Forum, this Loveland, Colorado-based company got it’s first chance at presenting this year, and came away with the top price. Lightning Hybrids technology equips trucks and buses with a hydraulic system that takes energy generated by braking and uses it for acceleration. The technology can save up to 40% in fuel costs, and decrease emissions by 50-95%.
Two Outstanding Venture awards went to Sun Number LLC and Stone Mountain Technologies Inc. Sun Number, located in Denver, developed an online tool that allows owners of commercial and residential buildings to determine how much energy can potentially be generated by the addition of solar panels utilizing aerial imagery and proprietary algorithms. Stone Mountain Technologies, out of Johnson City, Tennessee, is focused on gas absorption heat pumps that harness renewable energy and reduce heating costs by 30%-50%.
In addition to company pitches, attendees participated in 3 hours of facilitated networking during the One-on-One Networking sessions. A highlight of the Forum each year, the 1:1’s allow entrepreneurs to sign up for 15 minute meetings with over 50 leading investors, corporate partners, and NREL researchers.
In addition to company pitches, attendees participated in 3 hours of facilitated networking during the One-on-One Networking sessions. A highlight of the Forum each year, the 1:1’s allow entrepreneurs to sign up for 15 minute meetings with over 50 leading investors, corporate partners, and NREL researchers. The speed sessions kick off the Forum and the format provides just enough time to see if there is mutual interest by both parties, with the hope that conversations can continue over the rest of the two days. Over 600 individual meetings took place over this session.
Attendees also heard a keynote presentation by NREL Lab Director Dr. Dan Arvizu on the future of the clean energy industry. Retiring this fall after 10 years of service with NREL, Dr. Arvizu was also honored with an annual scholarship in his name in order to continue fostering new ideas in clean energy. Each year a 2-person University team will be sponsored to attend and participate in the annual Forum.