The Cleantech Open Midwest has a new home base, moving its Midwest headquarters to the other side of downtown Minneapolis. The Cleantech Open, which runs the world’s largest cleantech startup business accelerator, established a strategic partnership with the University of St. Thomas Schulze School of Entrepreneurship, which will function as the host for the regional operations after six years of leadership from the organization’s cofounder Justin Kaster.

“When the opportunity arose for the University of St. Thomas to manage the Cleantech Open Midwest, we made the move to create this partnership,” said Brian Abraham, associate dean of entrepreneurship in the university’s Schulze School of Entrepreneurship. “The Cleantech Open is a well-run organization with a successful track record of helping early-stage companies build their businesses in ways that benefit the common good, while creating scalable business models, which is something we teach in the Schulze School. The Cleantech Open Midwest adds a flagship program to our portfolio of entrepreneurial education.”

“Transitioning the day-to-day leadership of Cleantech Open Midwest to the University of St. Thomas makes sense on a variety of fronts. St. Thomas has an exciting agenda for the next couple years, which includes increasing its leadership role regionally and nationally in the areas of entrepreneurship,” said Kaster, who’s transitioning to chair Cleantech Open Midwest’s board of advisers and focus on other ventures including the launch of 2100 Advisors and co-creating Midwest Energy News’ 40 under 40 Clean Energy Awards program.

“We also recently established a strategic partnership with NextEnergy, a leading organization in the areas of advanced energy and transportation in the Midwest,” added Kaster. “These partnerships are particularly exciting because we believe the relationships will help Cleantech Open maintain and grow its leadership role within the broader innovation ecosystem and continue to act as the premier platform for startups to connect to resources outside the Midwest region.”

The 17 companies selected to participate in the 2015 Midwest Cleantech Open accelerator represent industries ranging from advanced manufacturing to wastewater treatment, sustainable energy creation to green building technology. During the rigorous 20-week program, these teams will gain access to tools and resources required to turn their companies into sustainable, scalable businesses that will make a positive impact on the world.

“NextEnergy is honored to be supporting the Cleantech Open Midwest again this year,” said Dan Radomski, vice president, Venture & Industry Development, NextEnergy. “The accelerator is unique in that it provides cleantech ventures with first class entrepreneurial training and direct exposure to investors and strategic partners.”

Over the next few months, accelerator participants will receive coaching from the Cleantech Open network of talented business mentors, one-on-one consulting with specialists, opportunities to pitch to investors and corporations, and continued education, building on what they’ve already learned at an intensive business boot camp back in June.

After graduating from the accelerator program, teams will compete for regional prizes, including combined cash and in-kind services worth up to $20,000, with two winners advancing to represent the Midwest region and compete at the national level for a grand prize of up to $200,000 in investment and services, and an overall prize chest of nearly $500,000.

The 2015 accelerator companies hail from six of the 13 Cleantech Open Midwest states, including Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and Wisconsin.

About Cleantech Open Midwest
The Cleantech Open runs the world’s largest cleantech accelerator. Its mission is to find, fund and foster entrepreneurs with big ideas that address today’s most urgent energy, environmental and economic challenges. A 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, the Cleantech Open provides the infrastructure, expertise and strategic relationships that turn clever ideas into successful global cleantech companies.

Since 2006, through its one-of-a-kind annual accelerator and mentorship program, over 1,036 participating companies in the United States alone have raised a total of more than $1.1BN and created thousands of jobs. In 2014, the Cleantech Open’s Global Accelerator was launched, the Global Cleantech Innovation Program. GCIP is a joint program of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Cleantech Open. Since 2009, Cleantech Open Global Ideas has been held annually in collaboration with Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW), and has included entrepreneurs from 43 countries. Fueled by a global network of more than 2,000 volunteers and sponsors, the Cleantech Open unites the public and private sectors in a shared vision for making the cleantech sectors a thriving economic engine around the world. For more information, visit www.midwest.cleantechopen.org or follow on Twitter: @mwcleantechopen.

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