Cleantech Startups Win Awards, Prize Money from Cascadia CleanTech Accelerator

Winners include a plant-based detergent, a process that utilizes excess whey from artisan cheese producers to make vodka, a micro-hydro energy system, and a technology that enables lower cost hydrogen for fuel cells

MEDIA CONTACT: Gregg Kleiner, 541.740.9654,

SOURCES: David Kenney, VertueLab, 503.780.8736,; Tom Ranken, CleanTech Alliance, 206.389.8655,

SEATTLE and PORTLAND, Ore. – The Cascadia CleanTech Accelerator, powered by CleanTech Alliance in Seattle and VertueLab in Portland, has announced cash prizes and awards to four of the eight early-stage cleantech startup companies that participated in the 2018 cohort.

The 14-week accelerator program concluded in Portland at the VertueLab Impact Summit, where all eight startups displayed their clean technologies, networked with impact investors, and were reviewed by a panel of judges that included representatives from Craft3, Dorsey & Whitney, Portland Seed Fund and E8.

The judging panel selected the following startups for cash prizes and awards:

  • Sironix Renewables, a Seattle producer of plant-based surfactant ingredients that enable detergents to be made with fewer harmful chemicals and at higher concentrations, won the Grand Prize and received a $5,000 cash prize, $2,500 of in-kind legal services from Dorsey & Whitney and an invitation to introduce the company at an upcoming E8 meeting.
  • Two startups shared the Standout Company Award, Wheyward Spirit of Eugene, Ore., developer of a process that utilizes the excess whey from local artisan cheese producers to make a craft vodka with significantly reduced water and carbon footprints and Bladerunner Energy of Bend, Ore., developer of a scalable micro-hydro solution that utilizes biomimicry to harness the power found in the natural flow of water without the need for dams. Each company received a $2,000 cash prize and $2,500 of in-kind legal services from Dorsey & Whitney.
  • STARS Technology Corporation of Richland, Wash., is a startup that offers a micro/meso-channel process technology developed at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory that enables lower cost and solar/renewable energy augmented production of hydrogen for fuel cells and other low-carbon fuels and chemicals. STARS won two awards:
    • the Potential for Impact Award and a $500 cash prize as the company with the potential to make the greatest tangible environmental impact, and
    • the Customer Discovery Award as the company demonstrating the best customer discovery execution, which included a $500 cash prize.

The other four startups participating in the 2018 accelerator cohort included:

  • Algotek (Eugene, Ore.) – Producer of a 100 percent natural, fully biodegradable polymer solution for replacing toxic and environment-harming plastics.
  • Drive Zero (Bainbridge Island, Wash.) – Developer of a mobile app that enables drivers to track mileage and automatically invest in local carbon offsets.
  • Hive Battery Labs: (Seattle) – Developer of process technologies for lithium-ion battery production that lowers EV manufacturing costs.
  • WHYGrene, Inc. (Seattle) – Creator of the CryptoJoule, a sustainable energy-based cryptocurrency that forms the optimal peer-to-peer universal currency with a joule as the unit of measurement.

“VertueLab is excited about the progress made by all of the companies in this year’s Cascadia CleanTech Accelerator cohort and is especially pleased with the potential of the award winners to continue their development and make a positive environmental and social impact,” said David Kenney, president and executive director of VertueLab.

The Cascadia CleanTech Accelerator is now in its third year helping early-stage startups advance to market by assisting with business modeling, customer discovery, product development, go-to-market strategy, environmental sustainability, preparing for manufacturing, financial planning, funding pathways and creating the industry connections needed to succeed.

In 2017, the program received a $500,000 i6 Challenge grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) to expand its curriculum and fund proof-of-concept project grants to selected companies to support the cost of collaborative research with university partners. Past participants in the accelerator program include Sankofa Lumber, a Portland commercial-scale supplier of reclaimed wood that is developing a way to process, warehouse and sell lumber that would otherwise be destined for landfills, and ZILA Works, a Renton, Wash., company that recently pressed the world’s first bio-epoxy resin snowboard.

“The success of companies from past Cascadia CleanTech Accelerator cohorts is inspiring and demonstrates that mentoring and support in a startup’s development pays off – sometimes in a big way,” said J. Thomas Ranken, president and CEO of CleanTech Alliance.

About VertueLab
For 10 years, VertueLab (formerly Oregon BEST) has supported and made direct program-related investments in innovative cleantech startups, connecting promising companies with resources, while preparing these companies for follow-on investment through a series of focused programs. VertueLab is a partner to impact investors, helping ensure their investment dollars are aligned with their values and are having a measureable impact on the planet. VertueLab is an independent nonprofit supported in part by a grant from Business Oregon. Learn more at and follow VertueLab for the latest updates on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

About CleanTech Alliance

CleanTech Alliance represents more than 300 member companies and organizations across the greater Northwest region. Founded in 2007 by business leaders, the organization facilitates the generation and growth of cleantech companies, jobs, products and services to advance the cleantech economy. CleanTech Alliance offers a range of business services and benefits uniquely designed to help businesses gain visibility, access services at a lower cost and benefit from public policy. Learn more at and follow CleanTech Alliance on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for the latest updates.