Q: Who is behind the Cleantech Open Competition & Accelerator?
A: In 2006, a group of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and business leaders saw a need to accelerate the creation of cleantech companies in California. As a result the group formed the California Cleantech Open competition, and a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization to run it. The group quickly realised that this organization should be taken to the national level – 2009 marked the beginning of the National Cleantech Open competition, which included 3 regions: California, Rocky Mountain, and the Pacific Northwest.
Fast forward to 2014 and the Cleantech Open Accelerator you meet today. There’s still a competition element, and there are major prizes to be won – but our main purpose is to accelerate your cleantech ideas into successful businesses across the country in 8 regions and expanding it globally to the rest of the world.
Q: Who is the local partner for the programme?
A: Through a project co-develop by the GEF and UNIDO, the programme is now expanding to other part of the world including Malaysia. The local partner is respective country is appointed by UNIDO and MIGHT was appointed as Lead Agency for the project. MIGHT will operationalise the programme together with other local counterparts including SME Corp, Malaysian Green Technology Corporation, Biotechnology Corporation, Cradle and Malaysian Technology Development Corporation (MTDC).
The programme is supported by Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water (KeTTHA), Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (NRE) and Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI).
Q: What is the mission of the Malaysian Cleantech Competition & Accelerator Programme?
A: The mission of the Cleantech Open is to find, fund and foster entrepreneurs with big ideas that address today’s most urgent energy, environmental and economic challenges. The accelerator program constitute much more than a competition; devoted to helping cleantech companies succeed. The competition itself is only a small part of what you will experience if you are selected as a accelerator participant. Our focus is on entrepreneurs and on great ideas that provide environmental benefits in the areas of renewable energy, energy efficiency, pollution reduction and resource protection and conservation. We also use our events to educate our program participants and the general public about the challenges we face and to demonstrate clean technologies that can provide solutions to those challenges.
Q: How does the Accelerator work?
A: The Accelerator consists of a number of programs; a competition, mentoring, training, showcasing of your clean technology or service, and access to the investment community. The first step is to apply for the Accelerator.
Q: Who can apply for the Accelerator?
A: The Accelerator is open to early-stage entrepreneurs who meet the criteria. Your company must have less than $5 million in external private funding (from angel investors, venture capitals or other third party sources of equity funding), and all other sources of funding (grants, friends and family and your own investments in your company) and at the founder must be a Malaysian.
Q: Can I participate with more than one team?
A: Yes – if you have more than one technology. Applicants may enter multiple technologies, each with the same team members, as long as each team has a different Team Leader. However, judges reserve the right to consider whether the commitment level of the team to a particular submission is affected by the multiple entries.
Q: Can I enter my technology into more than one technology category?
A: No. A given technology may be entered in only one category. However, as explained above, the same team members may form a different team with a different technology and enter to compete in a different category, as long as the Team Leader is different for each team.
Q: How do I apply for the Accelerator?
A: Click here for complete details.
Q: What does it cost to enter the Accelerator?
A: The 2014 version of Malaysian Cleantech Competition & Accelerator Programme is FREE. The generosity of programme stakeholders is much appreciated.
Q: How do I submit my application?
A: Applications are submitted online once you have created your team. You must first register on the Cleantech Open website and create your team. Once this is done, log in, select “Complete your Application”, and follow the instructions. As part of our effort to practice what we preach, all applications is to be done through the system.
Q: Can I change my application after it is already submitted?
A: Yes, you can change your application online as many times as you like before the application deadline.
Q: Will I receive feedback on my application?
A: Yes, you will receive limited feedback on the sections of the application that needs improvement. In addition, events organized by the MIGHT or programme collaborators are good opportunities to receive informal feedback from experts in the field.
Q: Assuming my entry is competitive, what are my chances of being selected as a participant and then winning a prize?
A: It is important to understand that you should not apply to the programme with a focus on the prize money. That undervalues your business and its potential. Participants from previous years repeatedly tell us that the major value came from all the training and mentoring and the opportunity to plug into a major cleantech network. As category winner, you are entitle to receive $10,000 in cash plus services. National Winner will be entitle to represent Malaysia during the Cleantech Global Forum in Silicon Valley with an all expense paid trip.
Q: I can’t log into my Cleantech Open account.
A: Make sure you are currently logged out by clicking the “Logout” link next to the banner at the top. If it says “Log In”, you are already logged out, so you can ignore this step. Close all of your browser windows. Open your browser again and try to log in on our site. If this does not work, clear your cache, delete the cookies in your browser and log in again.
Q: What services and benefits will finalists receive?
A: Click here (link to “Key Benefits” page) for all the benefits and services teams receive.
Q: Assuming my entry is competitive, what are my chances of being a finalist and then winning a prize?
A: The programme is about creating investable companies in the cleantech area. Winning the competition in one thing but most importantly the programme is about creating investable thus sustainable companies. The chances are higher for the teams with disruptive idea, spearheaded by the people with great enthusiast and able to show positives feedbacks as they go through the accelerator process.
Q: How many prizes are there, and what is included?
A: The programme will select the category winners contested, which is Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency, Waste and Water Efficiency. Each of the winners will receive $ 10,000 in cash plus services* to assist their development. The national winner will be selected among four finalist, for a chance to receive $ 30,000 plus an all expense paid trip to the Cleantech Global Forum in Silicon Valley.
*The services to be provided includes investment, soft-loans, grants, incentives, incubations and is subject to change.
Q: What kind of legal entity do I need in order to accept a prize?
A: A startup can be a group of people who have formed a team to apply for the Accelerator. However, a legal entity (enterprise, SME or similar) must be created prior to receiving any prizes, and any such legal entity must have an ownership structure typical of an independent startup.
Q: Is my company eligible for the Accelerator?
A: Click here for complete details.
Q: Can I apply in any region?
A: No. You must choose to apply to Malaysian Cleantech Competition and Accelerator Programme when you select the region. Otherwise, the host in Malaysia may not be able to identify you in the system. Not to worry, there are ample of opportunity to tap into international experts along the way. Through the programme connections, we try to facilitate international collaborations and opportunity.
Q: Our team has a breakthrough idea/technology, but we do not have a working prototype. Do we have a fair chance to win?
A: In the Competition portion of Accelerator, your team must demonstrate that your technology and/or idea are feasible and that they can be made commercially available in the short-term regardless of whether or not a prototype currently exists. Proven feasibility is a requirement to have a high chance to win the competition. From the pool of teams that demonstrated a convincing case of feasibility, our judges will choose the team with the most innovative and with the highest economic and environmental/social impact as the winner for each category. If your team feels that your technology/idea is ripe for commercial application but you are experiencing trouble demonstrating feasibility, please consult with our organizers at one of our briefings, or contact us.
Q: How are applicants and participants assured that their technologies, concepts, and inventions will not be stolen during the Accelerator?
A: This concern is one that many entrepreneurs share, and we are keenly aware of the need to treat this topic with sensitivity. Our judges handle the applications and other materials we receive with caution. An individual volunteer working closely with your company may choose to sign an non-disclosure agreement on his/her own behalf (but never on behalf of the MIGHT or the Cleantech Open); if you plan to disclose confidential information you should ask your mentor or other volunteer assisting you if he/she will agree to sign a non-disclosure, noting that both the language and the execution of the agreement are your responsibility – MIGHT and the Cleantech Open does not provide or enter into such agreements. If you have valuable intellectual property, please seek legal advice prior to submitting your application. By entering the Accelerator, each applicant will acknowledge that information provided by such entrant is at risk of disclosure. The disclosure of any information regarding your intellectual property may constitute a “public disclosure” that adversely impacts your potential rights. Practically, we expect that most applicants and participants will be able to present a compelling business case without divulging unprotected proprietary information.
Q: Although my team has not received any VC funding and do not plan to fundraise heavily before October 2014, we have been approached by some investors already and we believe that there is high likelihood of us having access to large investments in the near future. Do we have to prove that we “need” the competition prize to increase our likelihood of winning?
A: Our judges evaluate entries based on their merit. We want your team to tell us how you plan to take advantage of our prizes, but our decision will be affected mainly by your performance in judging.
Q: Our startup will have tremendous environmental impact but our projected financial results are not too strong. Are we at disadvantage in comparison to other teams that have higher returns in the short-term?
A: Ideally, our winners will have the highest overall potential in terms of combined environmental and financial impact. In order to win the competition, your team needs to demonstrate financial sustainability. At this time, we discourage nonprofits from applying, but we hope in the future to have a category to address those types of startups. Please note that a number of teams that participated in the startup development programme in the past have underestimated the potential market for their business. We encourage teams to give some thought to all of the potential applications of their business and to address their market in an expansive way. Please attend our workshops to learn how you might improve your financials to increase your chances to win the competition.
Q: We incorporated our startup a few years ago. Although we are still in startup mode, we have existed for a while. Is the fact that we are an old startup and/or that we have participated in/won business plan competitions going to hurt our chances to win the Cleantech Open Accelerator & Competition?
A: Our judges will want to understand why your company has not been able to make substantial progress since you started. You will need to prove that you understand what the problems were, and that you have a convincing plan and the ability to fix these issues in the near future. If appropriate, you may state how the competition will help you address any obstacles. Based on this information, our judges will evaluate your entry relative to other submissions. Whether your team has or has not won any prior Accelerator & Competition is irrelevant to the judging panels. The most innovative team with the highest combined environmental and financial potential will win.
Q: Our team is addressing an environmental problem that requires more than five years to scale up and to become financially attractive. Do we have a chance to win the competition?
A: We’re looking at startups that have solid financial and technical scale-up plans within a five year horizon. If your current solution does not meet this time frame, we encourage your team to focus on an aspect of the problem that will render a commercially viable product or service in less than five years for our competition.
Q: How will applicants be assured that their technologies, concepts, and inventions will not be stolen during the contest?
A: We appreciate concern regarding this very sensitive matter. Our judges will handle the executive summaries and business plans that we receive with caution. However, the judges, sponsors, partners and the Malaysian Cleantech Competition and Accelerator Programme organizers will not enter into a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) with any participating entrepreneur or team, and by entering the Accelerator each participant will acknowledge that information provided by such individual or company is at risk of disclosure. The disclosure of any information regarding your intellectual property may constitute a “public disclosure” that adversely impacts your potential rights. If you have valuable intellectual property, please seek legal advice prior to submitting your application. Practically, we expect that most entrants will be able to present a compelling business case without divulging unprotected proprietary information.
Q: How can I learn more about becoming a sponsor?
A: Click here to learn more about sponsor opportunities.
Q: I already registered last year. Do I need to register again?
A: You do not need to register again, but please login to your account to update your profile and let us know if you intend to participate in this year’s Accelerator. If you did not create a password last year, you can still use the password reset function to obtain a password.
Q: I did not receive a confirmation email after registration.
A: Check your spam/junk folder. If the email is not there, please contact the Malaysian Cleantech Competition and Accelerator Programme at contact us.
In addition, please be sure to add email@example.com to your address book to ensure that you continue to receive email communications from the Cleantech Open.
Q: What if I have other problems?
A: Contact us. Please be specific in your message, and describe any error messages you see.
Q: What is Cleantech Open’s Liability?
A: Entrants acknowledge that the judges, sponsors, partners and Malaysian Cleantech Competition and Accelerator organizers intend to carry out a fair and open competition, but are volunteering their services for the benefit of the Accelerator with no expectation of incurring liability by virtue of such participation. As such, each entrant, by entering the Accelerator, will agree and acknowledge that the activities of the competition and all decisions made in the accelerator and competition are within the sole discretion and determination of the judges, sponsors, partners and Malaysian Cleantech Competition and Accelerator organisers. The entrant will release and hold harmless all judges, sponsors, partners and other Malaysian Cleantech Competition and Accelerator organizers from any claims, liabilities, damages, demands or actions, of any kind or nature, by any entrant arising out of any of the activities of the accelerator and competition, including, without limitation, decisions on competition winners and disqualifications, regardless of whether such actions are willful or negligent.
Q: Can I be disqualified?
A: The Malaysian Cleantech Competition and Accelerator reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any entry that in its judgment violates the letter or the spirit of the accelerator guidelines, processes and rules of the Malaysian Cleantech Competition and Accelerator, and its decisions are final and binding.
Q: Are there other rules?
A: Situations which are not covered by the above rules will be resolved by the judging team of the Malaysian Cleantech Competition and Accelerator and their decision will be final. The staff and judging team reserve the right to amend the rules without notice, including in the event situations occur that are not covered by the above rules or to further interpret or clarify the existing rules when necessary.
Q: How would I opt out?
A: Opting out is simple and painless.
First of all, we ask you to reach out to your mentor and inform MIGHT as the lead agency of this programme. Make sure you reach out in advance of the optout deadline: 12th of September 2014 this year programme.
If, after discussion, you don’t wish to continue participating, just send an email to your the Project Management Unit in MIGHT letting us know if you’d like to opt out of this year’s programme. Please contact us immediately if you do not see that response email.