Pivotal Investments launches networking program for clean-tech industry

By Libby Clark, Columbian Web Editor

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Portland venture capital firm Pivotal Investments is recruiting Washington business leaders for a new network aimed at building the Pacific Northwest’s nascent clean-tech industry.

The firm is seeking to recognize and develop prospective chief executive officers and chief technology officers of clean technology firms through its Pivotal Leaders program, launched two weeks ago in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and British Columbia.

“We want to secure the Northwest as a center of clean-tech innovation and ultimately a scalable economy here based on clean-tech jobs and green jobs,” said Gregg Semler, managing partner with Pivotal Investments. “And as venture capitalists, we want to be the first call entrepreneurs make when they’re seeking capital.”

Members will have access to exclusive networking events with other clean-tech leaders, investors and sponsors such as Weyerhauser, Nike and Perkins Coie. The Pivotal Leaders program will also have its own secured Facebook and LinkedIn groups for continual social media networking and discussion.

Candidates are nominated by the business community and selected by their industry peers for membership in the network. Nominations for participation in 2010 will be accepted online at http://www.pivotal-leaders.com/ until March 17. The list of pivotal leaders will be published online in June.

“Networking, the goal of this initiative, is a tried and true component of a strategy to build a vibrant industry cluster,” said Bart Phillips, president of the Columbia River Economic Development Council. “Leaders of companies in this sector in Clark County could benefit from participation in this process.”

Clark County has several large companies as well as start-up ventures in the clean technology space, including Renewable Energy Composite Solutions, NCS Power and Sharp Laboratories, which is developing solar cells, home energy monitors, and energy storage devices among other technologies.

“It’s always helpful to have birds of a feather working together,” said Jack Van Oosterhout, president and chief executive officer of Sharp Labs in Camas. “And clean tech covers such a wide subject range that the odds of (members) competing are small compared to the benefits of collaboration.”