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If you have an innovation to cut carbon and energy consumption, the Cleantech Program might even send you to the US to talk about it


We’ve already embraced low-fat and low-sodium in our lives. Now the “Cleantech Competition” brings you the chance to go low-carbon.

The Australian Clean Technologies Competition, open till June 26, is part of the government’s push to make Australia an economy that is big on efficiency, but small on carbon.

It sees innovators who can help reduce resource and energy consumption in business as a way to get there. There’s also another good reason: the $26 billion clean technologies sector in Australia employs more than 45,000 people nationally.

How do Cleantech inventions get made?

Bright ideas must be nurtured so that they can develop into useable business solutions. Cleantech, with its Business Accelerator Program, offers qualifying start-up companies a support for this.

The program includes business mentoring and training in routes to market, business modelling, financing and presentation techniques. Exposure to potential investors and customers is also part of the mix. The offer is open to up to 30 companies; from these and after a two-month participation in the Business Accelerator, six finalists will be selected for further grooming.

Entries for the competition last year numbered 70. Projects dealt with energy efficiency, green buildings, new systems of transport, pollution, renewable energies and smart electricity grids.

The winner in 2011 was SMAC Technologies, with air conditioning technology that uses less energy. SMAC then represented Australia at the International Global Ideas Competition in the US.

For 2012, the winner will be announced in October at an Investment Showcase and Gala Dinner, and then funded to represent Australia, this time at the international GlobalCleantech Open Competition, again in the US.

Who’s the real winner in clean technology solutions?

Firstly, to be eligible to win the competition, there are three basic criteria concerning funding, residence and type of innovation:

  • As a start-up, your project must not have received more than $1 million from external financing (or $5 million including grants, money you put in and any money from your mates or your family).
  • You have to be an Australian resident; you also have to have an acceptable company structure for your project (see Cleantech rules).
  • Your business or your idea must fit within one of the approved categories: Air Water & Waste, Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, Green Building, Smart Power/Green Grid/Energy Storage, or Transportation.

What will happen to the clean technology inventions coming out of the program? Good question.

Although there are no guarantees of commercial success, the Australian government is still stacking the odds in the inventors’ favour. Back in February, it launched its Clean Technology Investment Programs, with funding of up to $1 billion for manufacturers to be more energy-efficient and lower their carbon emissions. That’s money that can be used for buying solutions like those from the Cleantech program.

So, if all goes well, then everybody stands to benefit.