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Are you brave enough to eat crickets? What if they were folded into a VooDoo donut?

These and other questions were answered as eleven Element 8 members ventured down on the train to OregonBEST’s 8th Annual BEST FEST, a 2-day hands-on gathering of entrepreneurs, investors, and thought leaders who innovate in sustainability and who want to accelerate solutions to environmental challenges.

Our members listened to budding and established entrepreneurs, thought-provoking and informative speakers, and networked to their heart’s content, all while enjoying the camaraderie of colleagues and the late summer-sun of downtown Portland.

Element 8 was a sponsor of OregonBEST FEST and happy to support OregonBEST, our own sponsor, in their mission of “Global Impact. One Startup at a Time.”

Our presence was notable. Jeff Canin, Board Member and Element 8 Fund co-manager, helped judge the Growth Category of the Cascadia CleanTech Pitch Fest; our Executive Director, Kristi Growdon, and members Peter Kelley and Barry Shaw met with 10 entrepreneur teams in the “speed-dating” Cleantech Connections event designed to connect innovators with investors; and, Alison Shaw, one of our Board Members, sat on the Reverse Pitch panel, explaining Element 8’s mission and values, how angel investing fits in the financing continuum, and how entrepreneurs can best connect with us.

The exhibit floor was full of fascinating innovations, some from Oregon’s top public universities, others from the vibrant start-up economy around the state. It was great to see portfolio companies Indow and Honeycomb there.

As for those crickets and cricket-based donuts? Start-up Ento Food Group is hoping their blend of nutrition, sustainability, and deliciousness will be part of the thorny problem of solving the world’s food production.

Not all Element 8 members were quite ready for cricket-based cuisine, but I didn’t hear any doubt about the tastiness of the craft brews and fine Oregon Pinot Noirs that were also consumed on the trip.

Check out the pictures of us taste-testing crickets, along with other key moments of the conference.

And please think about joining us in early September next year at OregonBEST FEST 2017.


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