Blackstone NC Program Director Kathryn James to Judge Cleantech Open Southeast Innovation Summit

DURHAM, N.C. & ALEXANDRIA, VA. -- The Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network of North Carolina (Blackstone NC), a Triangle-based business cultivator focused on growing opportunity and strengthening economic development, is pleased to announce that Program Director Kathryn James will be a judge at the 3rd Annual Cleantech Open Southeast Regional Innovation Summit Oct. 22 – 23 in Alexandria, Virginia. James will help select up to three regional finalists who will be awarded with cash and in-kind services of up to $20,000 and gain eligibility to compete for the national grand prize of $200,000 at the Cleantech Open’s Global Forum November 12 -13 in San Francisco. 

“Cleantech has been one of the areas of focus for some of our promising technology portfolio companies that we’ve connected with experienced, successful professionals, corporations and investors,” Bob Creeden, Blackstone NC executive director, said.

According to Creeden, Tethis – a former Blackstone NC portfolio company – won the 2013 Cleantech Open Southeast Regional Finals and was a national Finalist. The Raleigh-based company solves the risk, cost, and technical difficulties found in the treatment of highly concentrated brine waste as well as other hazardous wastes. Tethis is commercializing a technology, originated in North Carolina State University’s College of Natural Resources, to remove salt and other hazardous materials from water generated as a by-product of industrial processes, including fracking.

“Companies like Tethis prove that there is value in organizations like Blackstone NC, and events like the Cleantech Open, to find potential high-growth companies with innovations of value and figure-out ways to help them succeed,” said James, adding, “There are a lot of entrepreneurs working on innovative technologies that could have a lasting positive impact on the planet.”

The Cleantech Open Southeast will showcase the region’s most innovative entrepreneurs while hosting key stakeholders. Participants in this year’s Summit are focused on energy efficiency, waste-to-energy and the smart grid.

James interacts with a multitude of local, regional, and national business, technology, university, and entrepreneurial communities as a liaison for Blackstone NC Entrepreneurs-in-Residence and Blackstone Fellows.  Her judging at the Cleantech Open Southeast Regional Finals comes on the heels of serving as a judge at the Triangle Startup Weekend: Women at HQ Raleigh October 10-12. The event was a 54-hour experience where participants pitched ideas, collaborated with others who have complementary skill sets, received coaching, and produced startups that help even the playing field in entrepreneurship.

“There are many companies trying to move the needle in meeting the big challenges of our society. In the end, it comes down to execution – how complete are their solutions, how impactful are the results,” James said, adding, “Competitions like Cleantech Open and Triangle Startup Weekend are as helpful in driving early execution and feedback for these companies as identifying impactful solutions for our society.”

The goal of Blackstone NC is to create a dense network of dealmakers who grow high-potential startups into the next generation of great companies. By increasing the density of active investors in the region and connecting them with promising technology-driven companies the organization is able to help contribute to private sector growth and faster commercialization of ideas, creating a vibrant economic impact.

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About the Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network of North Carolina
The Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network of North Carolina (Blackstone NC) makes quality connections between promising young technology companies and experienced, successful professionals in an effort to grow opportunity and strengthen economic development. Launched in 2011 with a gift from The Blackstone Charitable Foundation, Blackstone NC is an important business cultivator in the state, with portfolio companies making over 700 connections and raising $48.8M in 2013. The organization helps entrepreneurs find their roles and works with them to understand what specific actions are necessary to lead to growth or revenue investment, then connects those entrepreneurs with individuals and resources to successfully commercialize their products. Blackstone NC focuses on a team approach to strengthening the state’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, partnering with area universities, advocacy groups, business leaders, investors, and the innovation community at large to provide unparalleled access to sought-after resources. Through its unique group of Entrepreneurs-in-Residence the organization provides participating companies with tactical and strategic guidance, connections to investment and invaluable insight, while the Blackstone Fellows program matches experienced university MBA candidates with EIRs and companies to provide resources on strategic projects. Learn more online at