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Search is on for clean tech leaders

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The Latest
Thursday, February 24, 2011

By Peter Beland

A program created by a Portland investment firm seeks to spearhead the development of hot new clean tech companies by identifying proven leaders and bringing them together.

Pivotal Leaders, a program of Portland-based Pivotal Investments, was born out the idea that while the Pacific Northwest is burgeoning with great clean tech ideas, the region does not have enough senior level executives with sufficient business acumen to realize them all.

“There isn’t a strong ecosystem of business leadership at this stage,” says Pivotal Investments co-founder Gregory T. Semler,  “Great companies are driven by great people.”

While San Francisco has a robust network of business leaders rooted in decades of tech companies spawning spin-offs and attracting investments, “Oregon just doesn’t have that,” says Semler.

Pivotal Leaders could help change this situation in three ways, Semler says:

* Leaders get recognition and credibility - because they were selected and elected by their peers.

* Election also brings access to networking events with key players in the clean tech world. “You’re in a room with 50 to 60 leaders in the field. It’s designed for leaders to meet other leaders,” says Semler

* The program and its accomplishments get promoted through social media and a column for Sustainable Industries Journal.

Now in its second year, Pivotal Leaders today started asking for nominations of a new round of leaders throughout the Pacific Northwest. The nomination process will run through March 22nd.

Last year’s leaders included Rob Bernard, chief environmental strategist for Microsoft, State Rep. Jules Bailey (D-Portland) and Skip Rung, the executive director of ONAMI.

After nominees are selected, they will then peer-select 40 or so Pivotal Leaders to be announced in late May. The winners will then be invited to convene in a Boeing Dreamliner in Seattle to meet with Boeing executives and discuss clean tech initiatives in the region.

Peter Beland is an associate writer for Oregon Business.


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