Atmosphere Recovery, Sheerwind Get Cleantech Awards

Atmosphere Recovery was named a regional winner and won a prize package worth up to $20,000-and Sheerwind won a regional sustainability award, which includes $10,000 in cash and in-kind services; both will compete at a national competition next month.

Eden Prairie-based Atmosphere Recovery, Inc., is one of three north-central region winners in this year's Cleantech Open-a national business-plan competition and incubator-and it will advance to a national competition in California in November.

Atmosphere Recovery focuses on the recovery, reprocessing, and reuse of high-temperature, industrial furnace and refining-process gases.

Twenty semifinalists from the north-central region, including five Minnesota companies, were announced in June-and that pool was then narrowed to three winners that were announced Monday. The region includes Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

A spokeswoman told Twin Cities Business in June that there were about 300 qualified applicants in this year's program. It awards start-ups in the cleantech industry with training, mentoring, investments, and professional services. The north-central region competition began in 2010.

Atmosphere Recovery and the two other regional finalists-Hartland, Wisconsin-based Forteco and Stoddard, Wisconsin-based Whole Trees Structures-each won a prize package of cash and in-kind services worth up to $20,000. They'll now compete against other regional winners across the country for a grand prize totaling $250,000 worth of investments and services.

In addition to naming regional finalists, the Cleantech Open also gave a regional sustainability award to Chaska-based Sheerwind-which is building technology for safe, silent, low-cost, and high-efficiency wind power generation. That award honors the company that “most effectively incorporated a triple-bottom-line approach to scaling its business,” and the award includes $10,000 in cash and in-kind services. Sheerwind will compete against other regional sustainability award winners at the national Cleantech Open competition.

“Now in our second year, the north-central region couldn't be more excited with the caliber of our companies' technologies and innovations representing 10 Midwestern states,” Justin Kaster, regional director of the north-central region and an investment banker with Minnetonka-based Cherry Tree Companies, said in a statement.

The Cleantech Open bills itself as “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.” Since 2006, the Cleantech Open has awarded more than $5 million in cash and services to support cleantech companies across the United States. Its 473 past participants have together raised more than $300 million in external funding and created more than 2,500 new jobs.