Note: Allan Maurer, co-founder of WRAL TechWire (Local tech Wire as launched in 2002), is covering the big venture capital and startup events taking place in Charlotte this week. His exclusive first report focuses on Tuesday’s Charlotte Venture Challenge kickoff. Our Insiders can access this story – and more to come. (Read this morning’s first story online at WTW.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The first set of presenting companies on two stages at the Charlotte Venture Challenge (CVC) this morning featured a handful of innovative and unusual new energy companies.

The CVC, part of the combined Southeast Venture Conference (SEVC) and Digital Summit running from Tuesday through Thursday in the Queen City, will move five finalists on to the SEVC stage later in the conference.

The startups pitching this morning also compete for:

  • the 2015 CVC grand prize of $20,000 and two runner-up prizes of $7,500 each.
  • the $7,500 Hauser Fund prize for the top Charlotte-based start-up
  • the first place student ventures prize of $3,000 and two runner-p prizes of $1,000.
  • the J. Chris Murphy Award of $500 to the top UNC-Charlotte team.

They present to 14 venture firms, including most of those currently active in North Carolina and the Southeast.

Pitching the new energy startups

  • Research Triangle-based Bluecell Energy, is developing a simple, safe, low-cost energy battery storage system based on capturing energy during a water desalination process. The company says it would be a “game-changer” in supplying energy during peak use times.
  • Charlotte-based Saros (EchoH2O Innovations) is working on one of the more interesting new energy ideas we’ve heard: it uses the massive power of ocean waves to run a reverse osmosis system that provides clean water areas where it’s most needed. They’re seeking $350,000 for research and development.
  • Lenoir, NC-based Verdante Bioenergy Services is seeking $1.45 million to continue development of its mobile-enabled app to capture data from producers and sellers of biomass for energy production. It meets what the company calls “the single greatest challenge for geographically dispersed biomass conversion facilities – to obtain enough feedstock to keep the facilities running.