As the end of the year draws near, we are all busy wrapping up projects. For the Cleantech Open, this means its regional accelerator programs are coming to a close and here in the Western Region, they celebrated at their annual Showcase last week in Fremont. Dozens of cleantech startups across a range of technologies completed intense judging sessions and learned whether or not they would advance to the Cleantech Open Global Forum. As always, this year’s event and participants revealed some interesting trends in the local cleantech story.

Scaling Up – While previous years have ushered in groups of very early-stage startups looking for seed funding to start out, this year’s class included many more mature startups who are using the program and potential cash award to scale their operations. Their key needs include identifying strategic partners, finding larger facilities, and accessing marketing opportunities.

New Technology Verticals Shine – There is no question that all clean technologies are on the rise in California. However, the Showcase revealed a huge emphasis on both the water and agriculture industries, given the importance of both to California’s economy (and livability). In fact, most of the agriculture products on display had to do with water conservation/efficiency, suggesting that they go hand-in-hand.

Post-Election Observations – Afternoon keynote speaker, Bob Keefe of E2, made clear that the cleantech economy’s immediate future is less clear following the election. He emphasized the importance of keeping our commitments from COP 21 and continuing to implement the clean energy agenda. As a note of optimism, the market for many clean technologies, including solar and electric vehicles, has proved itself and will fuel continued growth going forward. And California’s legislative leadership, supported by a host of organizations and programs (like CalCEF’s new CalSEED grant program) will lead the way.

Take a look at just a few of the companies we met this year and you will understand why we think the cleantech horizon is bright!

Liam Berryman of Nelumbo
accepts an award for their advanced HVAC coil coating technology to enhance
heat transfer.

WaterBit CEO, Manu
Pillai, shares his real time sensing system for growers.

BikeLeap’s Tai
Stillwater has launched a corporate bike share program for last mile commuting.