Cleantech Open Appoints Industry Experts to National Board of Directors and Key Leadership Roles

The Cleantech Open (, the world’s largest accelerator of early-stage clean-technology companies, has appointed five industry experts to its board of directors. The new board members represent a wide diversity of skills and expertise in the cleantech sector, and will help support and direct the organization’s accelerating global expansion. Also announced today was the appointment of Ian Foraker to executive director, along with three new chairpersons to lead operational functions.

Founded in 2006, the Cleantech Open has grown from one region to eight regions nationally, and has also scaled up globally with Cleantech Open Accelerators now operating in seven countries in partnership with the United Nations.

“The welcome addition of these talented board members, along with an executive director and key leadership roles, will ensure continuous improvement in both our domestic and global operations in 2016. This will allow us to take maximum advantage of the COP 21 resolutions coming out of Paris in December. Now that we have a Global Accord on Climate Change, we must all focus on fostering radical innovation to drive disruptive solutions with a renewed sense of urgency,” said Richard Franklin, executive chair of the Cleantech Open.

Executive Director appointment:

  • Ian Foraker has played an active leadership role at the Cleantech Open since beginning as the volunteer Bay Area Director in 2013. Ian advanced to the role of Western Region Director in 2013, and Western Division Director in 2014. Through his efforts, the Cleantech Open in the west United States has expanded its volunteer organization and entered into strategic relationships with regional cleantech leaders, the Cleantech Alliance of Washington, and OregonBEST. Ian comes to the Cleantech Open from PG&E, where he managed strategy industry engagement for the Customer Energy Solutions organization. At PG&E, Ian worked closely with the Emerging Technologies, Smart Grid, and SmartMeter teams on industry engagement. Before joining PG&E, Ian worked across diverse staff functions (communications, IT, and human capital management) at Siemens, PriceWaterHouse Coopers, and IBM.

Board appointments:

  • Bill Farris is associate laboratory director in charge of NREL’s innovation, partnering, and outreach directorate, and has managed the commercialization & technology transfer office since October 2008. In addition to leading the lab’s internal and external communication and outreach, Bill directs NREL’s efforts to accelerate commercialization and the transfer of laboratory technologies to the marketplace. He also oversees all licensing, sponsored research agreements, enterprise development, and innovation management functions at NREL. Prior to joining NREL, Bill worked at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), where he was responsible for commercialization, economic development, business and competitive intelligence, and commercial relationships. Bill has also managed new venture activities at the Pacific Northwest Division of the Battelle Memorial Institute, and served as a primary point of contact for interactions with venture capitalists. He is a member of the Association of University Technology Managers and the Licensing Executive Society.
  • Emerson Farrell is responsible for the overall vision and strategy of FGE through the management of strategic partnerships, long-term financial planning, selection of projects, and oversight of project financial planning and execution. Before founding FGE, Emerson previously led corporate strategy and business development for the high-tech firm ZINK Imaging, managed client engagements and business development efforts with management consulting firm Silver Oak Partners, and participated in the formation of international private-public investment funds with Economic Innovation. Emerson also serves as board director and/or senior advisor to various firms focused on clean technology, biofuels, and distributed power generation. Mr. Farrell serves on the board of the Harvard Alumni Entrepreneurs (HAE), and the For A Day Foundation.
  • Mitch Jacobson is a leader in bringing together government, industry, academia, utility and community interests to organize and shape the Clean Technology and Clean Energy Cluster in Central Texas since 2009. He is the co-director of the Clean Energy Incubator at the University of Texas at Austin and provides various advisory roles for the Pecan Street Consortium, SXSW Eco, the Environmental Sciences Institute at UT Austin, The Nature Conservatory, The Austin Young Chamber, and the Texas Foundation of Innovation & Commercialization. Formerly, he served as lead advisor to Austin Technology Incubator (ATI)’s clean-energy companies, chairman of the board of the CleanTX Foundation, and regional director for the Cleantech Open. Mitch has more than 25 years’ experience in the technology sector: he founded the Eyes of Texas Partners angel investment group, VP of sales for Tech Data Corporation, and director of sales for Dell Inc.
  • Erik Steeb is vice-president of programs at LACI, the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator, where he runs portfolio company programs with an eye toward scaling breadth, quality and capacity. He is also executive director of the Western Division of the Cleantech Open, and sits on the executive committee of the First Look West DOE University Clean Energy Challenge. Through these organizations, Erik works with more than 100 early-stage companies each year, honing their business strategies, connecting them with investors, customers, business partners, and advisors. Erik is also co-founder and managing director of Segue Consulting, providing interim operations, marketing, finance and executive office leadership for early- to mid-stage companies in cleantech and high-tech. Prior to his move to cleantech, Erik led Intel’s EMEA marketing organization, co-founded Intel’s alliances and business development organizations, and was responsible for a worldwide sales group that generated more than $6B in annual revenue.
  • Alec Wright is chief operating officer and startup director at GSVlabs, where he oversees startup recruitment and the growth of the GSVlabs ecosystem. Prior to GSVLabs, Alec served as a management consultant for several early-stage startups, and worked in banking and finance law. Alec has also held roles focused on investment due diligence, financial structuring, and corporate compliance. Alec also helps lead the GSVlabs Sustainability Lab, working with the Cleantech Open to deploy sustainability-focused programming, mentorship and business growth opportunities. A longtime sustainability advocate, he writes about cleantech innovation at and has served as a judge for the Department of Energy’s FLOW startup competition.

Functional leadership appointments:

  • Josh Hottenstein: national recruiting chair.
  • David M. Talon: national judging chair.
  • Steve Webster: national curriculum chair.

The Cleantech Open is 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. A 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, the Cleantech Open provides the infrastructure, expertise and strategic relationships that turn innovative technologies and ideas into successful cleantech companies. Since 2005, upwards of 1,000 startups have participated in its annual accelerator and mentorship program in the United States alone. Of these, roughly 70 percent are still active today: these cleantech startups have collectively raised a total of more than $1.2 billion and created thousands of jobs. In 2014, the Cleantech Open expanded the reach of its acceleration program beyond the United States through the Global Cleantech Innovation Program (GCIP): a joint program of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Cleantech Open. In addition, the Cleantech Open runs the annual Global Ideas competition in collaboration with Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW). This program showcases the most promising clean-technology ideas across the planet and has included entrepreneurs from 43 countries. Fueled by an expanding global network of more than 2,000 volunteers and sponsors, the Cleantech Open unites the public and private sectors in a shared vision for making the cleantech sectors a thriving economic engine around the world. For more information, visit, or follow us on @cleantechopen and Facebook.