An Epicenter for Cleantech Innovation

Oregon BEST FEST on Sept. 8-9 brings together cleantech investors, innovators, researchers, students, and others

Each year, the Pacific Northwest's premier cleantech innovation conference, Oregon BEST FEST, connects investors to entrepreneurs and researchers to fast-track deployment of new clean technologies that include everything from solar rooftop cooling and precision agriculture to apparel recycling, better batteries, smart buildings, energy-generating kites, and more.

At this year's event on September 8-9 at the World Trade Center in downtown Portland, startups will not only pitch their innovations to investors for thousand of dollars in prizes and support, but investors will also "reverse pitch" to entrepreneurs the types of cleantech innovations they're looking to fund.

"As clean technologies play an ever-increasing role in slowing climate change and improving quality of life, Oregon BEST FEST has become the go-to event in our region for investors, researchers, students, entrepreneurs, and others wanting to help advance breakthroughs that are good for the planet," said Johanna Brickman, Director of Collaborative Innovation for Oregon BEST.

Keynote speakers this year are Marilyn Waite of Village Capital, who will draw on her depth of international experience to offer a vision of how global challenges and the global economy are driving increased collaboration and investment in cleantech solutions, and Sheeraz Haji of zipdragon ventures, who will talk about the need to bridge the gap between physical clean technologies and the cloud by tapping a middle layer – an intelligent layer – of sensors, data, software, analytics and financing instruments that represents a large economic opportunity.

Oregon State Treasurer and Portland mayor-elect Ted Wheeler will introduce Sheeraz, and Ajay Malhotra, the son of a career diplomat who is fluent in the language and culture of technology, global business and commercial real estate, will serve as the event's emcee.

Other highlights include:

  • More than 25 Oregon BEST Companies will display everything from energy-generating kites and agricultural drones, to low-energy lighting, cross-laminated timber, longer-life battery technologies, smart sensors for energy efficiency, concentrated solar for stormwater cleanup, water-saving polymers, nontoxic adhesives, and much more.
  • A series of wide-ranging, rapid-fire Catalyst Presentations by authors, entrepreneurs, researchers and investors designed to spark ideas and inspire attendees with diverse subject matter.
  • The invitation-only Cleantech Connections event, cosponsored by the Portland Development Commission (PDC), Clean Edge, Inc. and Oregon BEST, will connect 50 cleantech startups in one-on-one meetings with Investment groups from around the world. Some of the investors include: Aster Capital, DBL Partners, Dow Chemical Company, Element 8, ENGIE, North Energy Ventures, Oregon Angel Fund, Pangea Ventures, Portland Seed Fund, Phoenix Venture Partners, SABIC Ventures, and Wells Fargo.
  • A Research Pavilion that will showcase research expertise available to startups via Oregon BEST's network of university labs and also feature the latest cleantech research underway in Oregon. Some of the research on display will include repurposing the waste pulp from fruit juicing operations for food and packaging, converting flared methane at landfills and fracking sites into other products, using residential water heaters as energy storage devices, and more.
  • The second annual Cascadia CleanTech Pitch FEST will feature nine Northwest startups competing for the $10,000 Cascadia CleanTech Prize, a collaboration between Oregon BEST and the CleanTech Alliance of Washington. In addition, ten student concept companies from Oregon universities will compete for $50,000 in the PSU Cleantech Challenge. All event attendees will vote for the People’s Choice awards after the pitches.
  • New this year, Reverse Pitches from Investors will feature a range of investors, including Alison Shaw of Element 8, Leigh Thompson of Dow Chemical Company Ventures, Catha Groot of Radicle Impact Partners and others, who will flip the script and pitch to the audience about the best way for entrepreneurs to engage with them and how they evaluate investment opportunities.
  • A Resource Pavilion will include dozens of nonprofits, university offices, regional business accelerators and others on hand to offer resources to startups, ranging from business expertise to securing funding.

Gov. Kate Brown attended last year's event and said, "Oregon BEST clearly puts on a great event every year...advancing Oregon's cleantech economy...and helping Oregon show the world that making smart decisions now is critical to building a more resilient and sustainable economy for the future."

Full program information and a list of speakers can be found at: http://oregonbestfest.org  and via the event's hashtag #BESTFEST16.