October 30, 2015

Web, Cleantech Meet This Weekend in Somerville

When we think of cleantech, minds immediately go to solar, wind, and maybe even electric vehicles.  Yet the second part of the word – tech – invokes a whole meaning. 

A little over a year ago, in the span of twenty-four hours, I attended two high-impact events: TechStars' Demo Day and the New England Clean Energy Council's Greentie Gala.  The first is a magnet for the who’s who of the Boston tech scene, while the latter is one of the signature annual events of the Commonwealth’s thriving clean energy sector.  The cross-pollination of individuals at the two events was minimal.  In fact, it was so striking that Walter Frick covered it in BostInno

Over the last few years, a sector has emerged to bridge this gap by applying software development skills to solve the world’s pressing needs for solutions to energy and water issues. This field, branded by Sunil Paul in 2011 as the “cleanweb”, has emerged as one of the most promising, flexible and engaging markets in the clean energy sector.

This coming weekend boasts what will be the Third Annual Boston Cleanweb Hackathon. This unique event, driven by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and a grassroots team of volunteers, unites developers, programmers, entrepreneurs and business leaders with 55 energy and water data sets in a prize competition to create the most effective, innovative and creative solutions to the biggest resource problems facing the world today.

And if past years bear any implication; these solutions will stretch far beyond the weekend-long event.

A year ago, the Boston Cleanweb Hackathon brought a team of unsuspecting innovators and friends together in the creation of what is now being heralded as the world’s first crowd-sourced thermostat. Crowd Comfort has been garnering significant attention in the cleantech ecosystem since its conception at the Hackathon a year ago. After pitching their idea at the weekend-long competition the company is now planning their third-round of seed funding, and appropriately so. Having brought their solution for effective room management to this year’s ARPA-E Conference in D.C., as well as recently garnering attention from Fast Company, this Somerville start-up shows no signs of slowing down and represents a unique niche in an expanding global market.

As MassCEC CEO Alicia Barton put it, “High tech startup companies like Crowd Comfort are the hallmark of the Massachusetts innovation economy. Drawing on our strengths in clean energy and IT, Crowd Comfort is poised to do what Massachusetts start-up companies do best– develop promising ideas into game-changing solutions for commercial markets”.

Embracing the capabilities of the mobile and web technologies has allowed some of Boston’s brightest entrepreneurs to lead the charge in effective resource management in an entirely new direction. The cleanweb represents the flexibility of the sector and a new frontier for Massachusetts innovators. Where some clean energy technologies are slowed down by financing hurdles or other challenges, cleanweb technologies can make an impact and reach the market in a matter of months rather than years.

This year’s Boston Cleanweb Hackathon is no exception – and is certainly not one to miss.  If you are a developer, budding entrepreneur, seasoned business professional and looking to win thousands of dollars in prize money, then please join us Friday evening at Somerville’s Greentown Labs.

One weekend of work and you may not only change your career path, but also make a significant impact on the world.