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Start-ups seek to accelerate their world-changing ideas

<p>Fourteen diverse companies will present to VERGE San Francisco&rsquo;s global audience this month.</p>

GreenBiz Group announced today the 14 companies selected as finalists for 2014 VERGE Accelerate, a showcase for innovative startups at the convergence of technology and sustainability, part of VERGE San Francisco.

VERGE San Francisco, the flagship of a global event series produced by GreenBiz Group, focuses on how technology accelerates sustainability solutions across industries and cities in a climate-constrained world.

The 14 companies, which each will give 2-minute pitches to an audience of more than 1,000 business and technology leaders, range from clean energy and efficiency in buildings to clean water and data-driven solutions for city governments. VERGE Accelerate is sponsored by Autodesk.

"This year's finalists demonstrate the full spectrum of innovation across sectors — a reality that is core to VERGE," said Shana Rappaport, director of engagement of VERGE and lead on the Accelerate Program. "We are excited about welcoming a new cohort of entrepreneurs into the VERGE community, and about the role we can play to help elevate and indeed accelerate their solutions."

To qualify for Accelerate, entrepreneurs were required to submit 60-second video submissions about their companies, explaining the real-world challenge and market opportunity their company addresses. Twenty-one semifinalists had their videos put to vote by the VERGE community online.

The 14 finalist companies are: BlocPower, Dropcountr, HydroRun Technologies, LocalData, MuniRent, Ohmconnect, OndaVia, OppSites, Persistent Efficiency, ProductBio, Strawberry Energy, Valor Water Analytics, VeloMetro and Wellntell.

Several of these companies are part of Autodesk's Clean Technology Partners program.

"The world needs more companies that are building successful businesses by tackling today's most epic challenges," said Lynelle Cameron, senior director of Autodesk Sustainability and CEO and president of The Autodesk Foundation. "The design-led revolution is in full force through VERGE Accelerate — where smart entrepreneurs innovate at the intersection of profit and planetary limits."

This year's VERGE Accelerate program is strengthened by partnerships with allied organizations that support early-stage ventures. They include the Alchemist Accelerator, Cleantech Open, Code for America, Green Business BASE CAMP, Imagine H2O, San Francisco Mayor's Office of Civic Innovation, SfunCube, Silicon Valley Robotics and Tumml.

VERGE Accelerate is among the nearly 100 sessions at VERGE SF focused on distributed energy systems, next-gen buildings, sustainable mobility, food and water systems, smarter supply chains and resilient cities. Featured speakers from the nearly 200 confirmed to participate include Chris Anderson of 3D Robotics, Joe Gebbia of Airbnb, John Lauckner of GM, Robb Fraley of Monsanto, author and entrepreneur Paul Hawken, biomimicry guru Janine Benyus and senior executives from Autodesk, Facebook, HP, Ford, GE, SDG&E, Google, IBM, Southern California Edison, Microsoft, NRG Energy, Jones Lang LaSalle, Yahoo, PG&E, Volvo, Boeing, Qualcomm, Kaiser Permanente, PepsiCo and Walmart.

Public-sector speakers at VERGE represent the cities of Los Angeles, Atlanta, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, San Francisco; the state of California, the federal Department of Energy, General Services Administration, NOAA and the White House.

For more information about VERGE San Francisco, visit

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