The Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) recently welcomed its seventh Incubation Program cohort, and eighth cohort of its Innovators program — both full of diverse, game-changing startups that are transforming the landscape of zero emissions transportation, clean energy, and sustainable cities and circular economy.
In the face of an escalating climate crisis, the work of our startups has gained paramount importance. That’s why LACI’s mission is as critical as ever: to empower emerging entrepreneurs and alumni companies through critical early-stage business development, cultivating a new wave of leaders in the 21st-century cleantech sector. These pioneers in technology are hard at work tackling urgent environmental issues like resource depletion, pollution, climate change, and waste management. The startups in these current LACI cohorts are focused on microgrid tech, alternative sustainable materials, electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure, ecologically conscious heating/cooling systems, and new EV models to help combat greenhouse gas pollution.
Cleantech startups not only play a crucial role in mitigating climate change by curbing harmful emissions into the ecosystem, but also actively contribute to the growth of the green economy by creating green jobs, fostering economic development, and nurturing a global ecosystem of sustainability.
Please join us in welcoming LACI’s newest program members!
Innovators Cohort 8
This year, the Innovators program broke a LACI record in diversity, welcoming 67% BIPOC founders and 38% women founders. The one-year Innovators Program offers a lighter-touch, high-impact concierge style ecosystem access opportunity. Innovators Cohort 8 consists of 24 founders with an even distribution of Clean Energy, Circular Economy and Transportation Electrification startups to the LACI portfolio.
- A La Care
- A La Care offers chic, eco-friendly foodware for LA-based food businesses, targeting owners who prioritize aesthetics and Instagram-friendly products. Their goal is to replace Styrofoam and single-use plastics at local events, food trucks, and restaurants. Traditional plastics dominate due to cost and functionality, but A La Care focuses on design innovation without tech risks. Their products, made from bamboo and sugarcane bagasse using molded fiber technology, are ready to scale rapidly, making us market-ready upon funding. Their stylish prototypes aim to overcome sustainable packaging barriers, establishing them as a market leader in a promising, untapped market.
- BOLD Swim
- BOLD Swim is a swimwear brand that uses technical fabrics in their collection, along with resource efficiency-minded production techniques by designing for versatile use and waste management. The signature fabric is Amni Soul Eco which is a highly durable and versatile fabric that is also biodegradable biomass (end of life) and eco-friendly.
- CarKenny is a community-focused Mobility-as-a-Service platform that offers users a single app for planning, booking, and paying for sustainable transportation. CarKenny’s core mission revolves around reducing the number of cars on the road in favor of shared and eco-friendly transportation alternatives. They place a strong emphasis on collaborating with community-based organizations to ensure that traditionally underserved and marginalized communities gain access to clean mobility solutions, particularly in areas currently lacking adequate transit options. Furthermore, CarKenny actively partners with transportation providers to ensure that their assets are strategically positioned to meet the specific needs of these communities.
- CHRGsystem simplifies Los Angeles film production decarbonization with unique hardware and software. It integrates clean energy via CHRGconnx, reducing diesel generator reliance. CHRGsystem’s software optimizes supply logistics, cuts emissions, and enhances efficiency for a greener, cost-effective industry. It also promotes EV adoption, making LA a global leader in sustainable filmmaking.
- Harsh Electronics
- Gas vehicles currently dominate personal transportation, but the future depends on widespread EV adoption, particularly in cities. As urban areas commit to phasing out gas vehicles, the need for EV charging infrastructure is undeniable. Outdated transformer technology hampers this growth, especially in densely populated and lower-income urban regions. Harsh Electronics addresses this challenge with TransformerX, a compact, cost-effective solid-state transformer. Harsh Electronics empowers utilities to expand EV charging networks, propelling the urban EV revolution.
- High Note Technologies
- High Note has introduced a mobile app that transforms the parking and EV charging experience. Users can easily locate and reserve parking slots and EV charging spots in areas lacking commercial infrastructure. High Note achieves this by providing a platform for public and private parking space owners to list their units, generating additional revenue streams.
- LA Mushroom Lab
- LA Mushroom Labs is introducing an innovative mushroom-based coffee cup, a sustainable alternative to traditional single-use cups. Crafted from used coffee grounds and infused with the power of mushroom mycelium, this cup offers a breakthrough solution for eco-conscious coffee lovers. Each cup is carefully grown using locally sourced coffee grounds, transforming waste into a durable and compostable material. Our mushroom-based coffee cup is not only waterproof and insulating, but it also helps reduce plastic and styrofoam waste. Embrace a greener coffee experience with a cup that’s as earth-friendly as the brew it holds.
- Looks For Lease Inc.
- Looks for Lease is creating an innovative ‘Circular Inventory Tracking System’ that facilitates the logistics of a dynamic environmentally conscious Wardrobe Rental experience by combining Stylish Size inclusive fashion, an extensive recycling program and perfecting fit through body measurement integration. By keeping Wardrobe within a rental infrastructure, it maximizes the use of textiles, reduces landfill waste and production of excessive goods.
- Owlet Bikes Inc.
- Owlet Bikes offers city commuters an immersive visual and sensory experience, enhancing their journey with convenient mobility and storage solutions. Their product is an elegantly designed, sustainable, and affordable designer e-bike. It’s compact, yet not foldable, fast, yet quiet, providing a comfortable and experiential ride.
- The Pencil software product, born after the pivot from Atop in April 2023, identifies financial incentives for the energy transition and organizes them into a structured dataset accessible via web app and API. Following extensive customer interviews, particularly with policy experts in various technology sectors, it became clear that they struggle to keep up with the evolving policy landscape and requested a solution to streamline financial incentive tracking. To address this issue, Pencil is currently focused on EVs and EV infrastructure in California, exploring the use of AI and LLMs for expansion. Incentives are substantial, potentially reducing total project costs by 10-30%, though accurate data is hard to come by.
- Shape revolutionizes waste practices at fast-service restaurants like Chipotle. Our solution blends hardware and software to streamline trash disposal, monetize recycling and composting, and encourage eco-conscious choices. The hardware redesigns trash bin openings, simplifying waste sorting for recycling, composting, or landfill. Clean materials are sent to recycling and composting agencies, generating profits. The software features a mobile app serving as a digital marketplace, incentivizing waste reduction and eco-friendly shopping through reward points within the Shape network.
- Thermal Smart Aerogel
- Thermal Smart Aerogel provides advanced, aerogel-based thermal and fire barrier solutions, expertly designed to mitigate thermal runaway in batteries, enhancing the safety and efficiency of clean energy and logistics industries. Applications for the technology include use on refrigerator trucks and other logistics/shipping equipment.
- Turtle is a forward-thinking platform designed to enhance bicycle parking and rental services within urban environments. It is dedicated to establishing an extensive network of affordable bike infrastructure that serves as a very secure parking solution for micro-mobility enthusiasts. Turtle offers businesses and individuals a trusted marketplace for renting bikes, ensuring secure and convenient access to sustainable transportation options. This initiative fosters a greener and more accessible urban bicycle landscape.
- Venaera’s proprietary air-source heat pump is modular, allowing rapid and easy refurbishment, upgrade, up to 70% cost savings, and avoided environmental impact; smart, with external facing sensors and software to optimize operation, as well as internal sensors to predict component failure and preemptively service units to maintain reliability.
- Werlpower, a new green energy startup, innovatively generates cost-effective carbon-free electricity. They utilize the kinetic energy in outfall from Wastewater Treatment Plants to power modified wind turbine generators. WWTPs, operating 24/7, offer a reliable source of hydropower. Werlpower focuses on treated water about to be released into rivers or oceans, containing untapped energy. Overcoming low head challenges during water release, Werlpower holds a patented process to efficiently harness this energy.
Incubation Cohort 7
LACI received 89 applications in total for Cohort 7 of LACI’s Incubation program this year – a record breaking turnout! We selected 12 startups, and welcomed 83% companies with one or more BIPOC founder and 43% women founders. LACI’s Incubation Program helps cleantech companies to become more competitive, resilient, environmentally sustainable, and scalable!
Admission into LACI’s Incubation Program unlocks a two-year program for startups in Southern California, offering four months of acceleration through workshops and peer learning, diverse funding opportunities and access to LACI’s state of the art campus, joining a cleantech ecosystem of over 375 cleantech portfolio companies and alumni.
As we continue to look to the future, applications for Incubation Cohort 8 are opening soon – more info can be found on the Incubation and Innovators page.
- Airvitalize has developed a patent-pending technology that cleans outdoor air by pulling it in, ionizing particulates, and releasing purified air. It can purify a city block daily using minimal electricity, comparable to simply the energy of charging your phone three times. The design evolved through two pivots to align with market needs. The tech has been extensively prototyped and lab-tested, proving its effectiveness. Currently emerging from RevIthaca’s Rapid Prototyping Hardware Accelerator, we anticipate a beta launch this fall.
- Biliti Electric
- Biliti offers a 10kWh+ modular, manually swappable battery, addressing energy access and fast charging challenges in busy urban mobility scenarios. Use cases like last-mile delivery, ride-hailing, and micro-mobility demand constant vehicle uptime, making lengthy charging breaks impractical. Traditional fast chargers are costly and often require significant infrastructure upgrades. In contrast, Biliti’s solution enables quick setup of stationary and mobile swapping stations, eliminating the need for extra real estate and costly grid enhancements. This approach is especially valuable in emerging markets. Biliti Electric manufactures highly efficient last-mile and passenger vehicles, boasting a 30% improved drivetrain efficiency and a superior payload ratio in their vehicle class.
- Blip Energy
- Blip introduces a cost-effective energy storage solution, seamlessly adaptable for any home. Their innovation answers the global demand for affordable, dependable energy storage while expanding smart grid accessibility. Utilizing second-life battery cells, they reduce hardware costs significantly. Prioritizing hard-to-reach households, Blip addresses backup power, promoting smart energy storage adoption. At scale, their grid services stabilize demand, prevent outages, and cut emissions.
- Duet is a data-driven, fully integrated, and turnkey software platform for mobility fleet operators to optimize operation efficiency, service to emission ratio and fleet economics. The platform includes our proprietary optimization algorithms and predictive ML model for trip allocation, and a suite of web or mobile based applications for each of the main stakeholders involved in the services to manage, monitor and analyze the services.
- it’s electric
- Cities want EVs on the road as quickly as possible, but don’t offer a way to charge for the millions of drivers who park their cars on the street. While major EV charging companies focus on regional growth with limited interest in curbside charging, disadvantaged communities in dense urban neighborhoods are being excluded from the electric transportation revolution. It’s Electric will solve this by installing and maintaining a network of curbside charging posts across all city neighborhoods, with a focus on deployment in disadvantaged communities. It’s Electric will rapidly scale by using existing, privately-owned distribution; sharing revenue with adjacent properties to expand participation in the new EV economy. It’s Electric’s rugged charging hardware features a minimal footprint and proprietary plug-and-play interface, able to survive on the toughest city streets.
- Mack Research
- Our product is a clean wind energy facade system for buildings. The device produces energy that is stored in the building through oscillation of leaf-like external sails through fluid wind flow.
- Planette’s SaaS platform, tailored for the Renewable Energy sector, allows for advanced site selection and location strategy optimization (over an energy facility portfolio), energy policy monitoring, and (1- to 30-year) energy production/demand/pricing forecasting. The platform allows users to optimize energy production, minimize losses due to climate hazards, and maximize profits over the lifetime of a RE project.
- Salubata offers a revolutionary line of modular and customizable shoes that are made from upcycled plastic bottles. Our innovative footwear combines style, comfort, and sustainability. The modular design allows customers to easily interchange components like soles, uppers, and accessories, enabling endless style possibilities and reducing waste. We are committed to creating durable, high-quality shoes that not only look good but also contribute to reducing plastic pollution. By using recycled materials and promoting circularity, our products are a step towards a more sustainable future.
- Symmetry Wood
- Symmetry Wood offers a sustainable alternative to precious woods called Pyrus™, crafted from food waste. Pyrus™ exhibits impressive hardness and density, rivaling hickory and African Ebony, thanks to its bacterial cellulose (BC) fiber structure. It’s also less prone to cracking in humid conditions, as it lacks tree-derived wood compounds like lignin and hemicellulose. Symmetry’s innovative process replicates wood components, avoiding common wood issues. Pyrus™ is produced additively, drastically reducing waste and eliminating the need for logging forests, enabling diverse product customization.
- TAINR is an innovative smart refill kiosk that transforms the traditional grocery store bulk aisle. It offers a hygienic, package-free shopping experience for dry goods while utilizing AI, sensors, and RFID technology for efficiency. This solution benefits both customers and retailers, providing real-time inventory data and sales insights, reducing restocking time, and curbing product losses. TAINR promotes a circular economy, addressing plastic waste concerns while improving sustainability in retail. Moreover, it addresses grocery store inefficiencies, labor shortages, and data collection issues, optimizing supply chains and promoting smart container reusability.
- Zen Technologies Inc.
- Zen is a mobile application rideshare platform that is redefining micro-mobility by providing short-duration rides through Low speed electric vehicles. Zen Shuttles set out on a mission to bring peace to the university communities. Zen Shuttles exist to provide students with a safe, fast and reliable way to get around campus and to provide peace of mind to parents that their students will be safe. Say goodbye to traditional forms of transportation and #JustZen!
- Sundial Foods
- Sundial has built a manufacturing process for using a proprietary single-step heat and pressure process to texturize delicious, complex plant-based meat alternatives. Our goal is to give people the wonderful experience of eating chicken — including “bone-in” wings, boneless wings, and chicken breast — in a nutritious and eco-friendly way. Because of the nature of the Sundial process, all of our products are totally plant-based and clean label, with no binders, additives or processing agents.
FBA Winter2023 Cohort
The LACI Founders Business Accelerator (FBA) boosts the growth and impact of small businesses and micro-enterprises in Los Angeles. This free six-month virtual program provides participants with a strategy for success in the evolving business landscape. Participant companies receive training and personalized support from LACI’s seasoned Executives-In-Residence and industry experts, helping them strengthen their business plan, access crucial resources, and accelerate their success.
- Nearby Consulting
- Collaborating with emerging social impact organizations to advance economic empowerment.
- Prize Coffee
- Providing contactless Nitro Cold Brew Coffee & Kombucha Kiosks for businesses and residential buildings.
- Watt Ave.
- Wattblok is a peer-to-peer EV charging app that connects EV drivers with nearby home-charging stations.
- First Gen Tours
- First Gen Tours is an Augmented Reality startup focused on equalizing the college touring for first generation students.
- American Pet Apparel
- American Pet Apparel creates functional and sustainable dog apparel that is thoughtfully designed to address a dog’s physiology and adaptation.
- Streetwear brand rooted in telling stories of the underrepresented.
- We are a circular, sustainable clothing brand based in LA that generates new clothing from textile wastes, with a focus on hotel waste linens.v
- We are a platform for delivering Latin music, assisting record labels in significantly reducing the distribution costs for their artists’ music.
- Holloway R&D
- Holloway R&D is a human-centered research and design consulting firm specializing in early-stage software development. We partner with clients – startup founders, Fortune 500 leaders, and public sector innovators.
- Guau Guau Treats
- Guau Guau Treats is a wife and husband owned dog treat business based in Los Angeles. Our goal is to provide pet owners with a healthy and delicious alternative to traditional dog treats.
- Common Canvas
- Common Canvas is a unique outdoor and indoor nail salon located in Los Angeles.
- Hamilton Perkins Collection
- Hamilton Perkins Collection is an independent brand that designs and produces unique and award-winning bags and accessories made from upcycled materials.
- Mas Amor Boutique
- Mas Amor Boutique is an online women’s boutique dedicated to spreading love and making women feel beautiful, confident, and capable of achieving anything.
- One Mauve
- One Mauve, is a leading software platform specializing in on-demand peer-to-peer mentorship programs. We help universities create robust pipeline systems for underrepresented students, with a specific focus on Black, Latinx, Native American, and first-generation individuals.
- We are a socially and environmentally conscious brand, dedicated to crafting inclusive women’s wardrobe essentials that embrace diverse shapes, sizes, and skinones, while championing a positive impact on our planet.