* Leading U.S. cleantech award now in its fifth year
* Worth $250,000 of investment and services
SAN JOSE, Calif., Nov 17 (Reuters) - An award for the best U.S. cleantech company of 2010 went to a water purification firm, attracting welcome attention at a time when capital is hard to come by but surprising even the firm’s founder.
Mark Owen, chief executive of Cleantech Open grand prize winner Puralytics, admitted that he had initially viewed cleantech as having more to do with clean energy, but a venture capitalist assured him he could win the prize if he took part.
“I’ll have to thank him,” he said while accepting the award on Wednesday night in front of an audience of hundreds in San Jose, California — the hub of U.S. cleantech investment.
Second place for the award, backed by the venture capital arm of oil company Chevron Corp (CVX.N), went to a OnChip Power, and third place went to a EarthClean — whose CEO drank some of the environmentally friendly fire retardant on stage to prove its green credentials.
Owen, asked what the award meant beyond the $250,000 prize package of investment and services, said it gave investors another reason to consider putting in some money. “It helps with the assessment of the company,” he said in an interview.
Rex Northen, executive director of the Cleantech Open, said $280 million had been raised for the hundreds of companies that took part in the competition over the past five years.
Trond Unneland, managing executive for the division known as Chevron Technology Ventures, said Chevron took part because some of the new ideas might be adopted by his company, describing his $240 million fund as an “on-ramp for technology into Chevron.” [ID:nN17519043] (Reporting by Braden Reddall; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)