Four WA Cleantech Firms—AltaRock, Infinia, Powerit, Verdiem—Crack Global Top 100 List

9/16/09Follow @gthuang

Four companies from Washington state have been selected to a list of the world’s 100 most promising private cleantech firms. That’s according to a report released yesterday, in a joint effort by The Guardian (the UK-based newspaper) and the Cleantech Group, a global company that provides research, data, and advisory services for the clean technology industry.

The Washington results are not too shabby—especially for a state that has been perceived as trailing other parts of the country in terms of cleantech venture investment, alternative energy policy, and expertise. We’ve been hearing a lot about those issues from experts like Jesse Berst of Redmond, WA-based Global Smart Energy and Michael Butler of Seattle’s Cascadia Capital. While the latest news won’t do much to stem any criticism (nor should it necessarily), it does provide some recognition for the local cleantech scene.

The Global Cleantech 100 list “recognizes companies at the forefront of cleantech innovation offering solutions to some of the planet’s most pressing environmental challenges,” according to the Cleantech Group’s website. The companies were selected by a process involving hundreds of international experts on cleantech innovation, venture capital, and entrepreneurship (check out the methodology here). Cleantech, by their broad definition, spans the fields of energy generation, storage, infrastructure, and efficiency, as well as transportation, water and wastewater, air and environment, materials, manufacturing, agriculture, and recycling and waste.

The four Washington companies span energy generation (solar and geothermal), energy efficiency, and software. We’ve covered all of these companies this year at Xconomy, and here’s a bit about each one:

AltaRock Energy, based in Sausalito, CA, and Seattle. This geothermal company was founded in Seattle in 2007, and plans to artificially engineer reservoirs of hot water deep underground and extract steam energy as it rises to the surface, as we reported last summer. AltaRock hit a snag in recent weeks when it had to suspend drilling of a well in Northern California due to geological problems, but says it is continuing to develop its technology and look for alternate drilling sites. The company is backed by Vulcan Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Khosla Ventures, Google.org, and others.

Infinia, based in Kennewick, WA. This solar power company makes devices that capture and focus sunlight, and then harness the concentrated heat (using a Stirling engine) to generate electricity, as Luke reported in a recent company profile. The strategy is complementary to traditional solar cells and photovoltaics. Infinia has been around since the 1960s, but has focused on solar since 2005. It is backed by Vulcan Capital, Khosla Ventures, Idealab, and other prominent investors.

Powerit Solutions, based in Seattle. This energy-efficiency company, originally from Sweden, has been in Seattle since 2002. It makes hardware and software to reduce energy consumption and costs in industrial facilities like steel mills and manufacturing plants, as Rachel reported this summer. In May, Powerit raised $6 million led by Siemens Venture Capital and ArcelorMittal’s Clean Technology Fund, with @Ventures and Expansion Capital Partners also participating. Some of its customers include Ikea, Benton Foundry, Stockholm Airport, and the San Jose Mercury News.

Verdiem, based in Seattle. This cleantech software firm, founded in 2001 and backed by Kleiner Perkins and other investors, focuses on energy efficiency and management in the corporate IT world. Its personal computer power-management software has been installed on more than one million desktops, and its customer base has doubled in the past year to include more than 300 corporations, government agencies, and universities. We’ve reported on Verdiem’s progress in demonstrating energy and cost savings to companies, as well as its broader strategy in cleantech-meets-IT from CEO Jeremy Jaech.

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com or call him at 617-252-7323. Follow @gthuang

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