Tours, talk, and tech: Three elected officials visit LACI

LACI, hosted three elected officials at its headquarters in the Arts & Innovation District in Downtown LA and at its bimonthly Leadership Council meeting. Los Angeles City Councilmember Tom LaBonge (CD-4), California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, and California State Senate President Pro-Tempore Kevin de Leòn (SD-24) visited LACI

Pick My Solar wins SBA’s “Outstanding Small Business” award for 2015


LACI Portfolio Company Pick My Solar was named this year’s “Outstanding Small Business” on May 4th at Los Angeles City Hall. Presented by Mayor Garcetti as part of LA Small Business Week, the recognition comes from the U.S. Small Business Administration‘s Small Business Development Center.

Pick My Solar was founded in 2013 and joined LACI that same year. With backgrounds in engineering, Co-Founders Max Aram and Chris Blevins have always felt passionate about solar power, both from scientific and environmental perspectives. When they entered the solar industry after college, they realized that a major obstacle to broad-based industry growth was confusion on the part of consumers over the purchasing, bidding, and financing of solar power. Max and Chris then created Pick My Solar, which serves as an online marketplace, to simplify the process, drive down costs, and provide transparency for homeowners.

Since it’s founding just two years ago, Pick My Solar has assisted over 10,000 homeowners with solar pricing, data, and installation.

This award from Mayor Garcetti and the Small Business Administration adds to an exciting list of recognitions the company has received this year, including winning a U.S. Department of Energy grant for app development and being highlighted on KTLA’s “Money Smart” segment.

LACI’s President & CEO Fred Walti commented on the award, saying

Pick My Solar is a great example of a company harnessing the innovative, entrepreneurial spirit here in the LA region. Not only are they making a positive environmental impact through the services they offer, they’re saving homeowners money and contributing to the increase in home solar installations, which helps created jobs in LA’s green economy. Here at LACI, we’re proud to have Pick My Solar as one of our Portfolio Companies and know they will continue to succeed as they expand throughout the Southern California market.

To learn more about Pick My Solar and how they can help you go solar in a simple, affordable way, visit their website.

If you’re interested in putting LACI’s tools and networks to work for you and your business, apply to be a Portfolio Company here.

Announcing LACI @ ProspectSV

LACI@ProspectSV offers early stage support for promising clean technology companies designed to prime pilots and increase market adoption throughout California.

February 19, 2015 (Silicon Valley, CA) – Prospect Silicon Valley (ProspectSV) and the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) are excited to announce the launch of LACI@ProspectSV, results-oriented help for promising early stage companies that augment ProspectSV’s state-of-the-art Technology Demonstration Center and commercialization programs with LACI’s world-class incubation platform.  The LACI@ProspectSV initiative is part of the broader US Department of Energy (DOE) funded California Cleantech Commercialization Coalition (4C), the first statewide partnership to provide comprehensive support to clean energy startups.

ProspectSV is leading the way as a California commercialization catalyst for emerging clean technology companies that are ready to bring their product to market.  Their 23,000 sf facility supports leading technology pilots and demonstration projects, and has become a headquarters for product refinement, testing, and commercialization.  In addition, ProspectSV builds partnerships to leverage infrastructure as “living laboratories” for next-generation technology, providing a world-leading stage for investors, potential customers, global corporate leaders, and government policymakers to see innovation in traffic, vehicle, building and energy technology in action.

To help further meet the demands of many emerging companies, and to prepare them to leverage the substantial assets of ProspectSV, LACI will offer its incubation support to emerging companies at ProspectSV facilities.  In turn, ProspectSV will offer its facilities and expertise to help the companies that LACI currently serves in southern California.

“We are thrilled with this important partnership, and to be part of the 4C team representing California,” said Doug Davenport, Executive Director of ProspectSV, “Working together, our programs will make a great impact on emerging technology coming out of this part of the country and will create a model that can be used globally.”

“Connecting the best organizations across California, which serves as the global model for cleantech innovation, is the logical evolution of our cluster,” said Fred Walti, Executive Director of LACI.  “Together, we can better support the best young companies and see greater adoption in global markets.”

LACI is designed to help early-stage cleantech companies to deftly navigate the difficult startup years through its formalized support system, deep bench of expert mentors, strong network of investment capital and market resources, and pragmatic education and training, Named a UBI Global Top 10 Incubator in 2014 in just its 3rd year operating, LACI has formally incubated 30 companies that have secured over $50 million in funding and have created over 450 jobs.  LACI@ProspectSV is its second satellite, following the successful launch of LACI@CSUN in 2014.

This partnership between LACI and Prospect SV is a vital bridge between innovation and commercialization partners across California as part of the broader US Department of Energy (DOE) funded California Cleantech Commercialization Coalition (4C).  The 4C is the first statewide partnership to provide comprehensive support to clean energy startups, offering clean energy innovators a unique suite of full-spectrum, long-term support services to help them bring promising clean technologies to market, including best-in-class:

By unifying industry-leading incubation, prototype manufacturing, commercial-scale pilots, and market-entry programs, the 4C substantially de-risks an inherently risky sector, facilitating investment from a wide array of capital sources in California, the top clean technology market in the nation.  For information on the 4C, please visit

About Prospect Silicon Valley (ProspectSV)

Prospect Silicon Valley (ProspectSV) is the first nonprofit, Silicon Valley-based technology commercialization catalyst for smarter, cleaner cities globally. ProspectSV supports emerging technology companies with access to facilities, platforms, partners, and market connections, including its Demonstration Center, a $12 million, 23,000 sq. ft. facility with industrial and lab space, office and meeting rooms, promotional space and commercialization support staff. ProspectSV includes market connections and early adoption in the municipal sector through the Bay Area Climate Collaborative, a unique public-private partnership assisting communities across the Bay Area in taking on their biggest challenges in reducing carbon emissions.  Learn more at

About the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI)

LACI is a non-profit, public-private partnership that helps promising companies deliver market-ready cleantech solutions and the jobs that come with them. LACI combines capital, universities, research, government support, entrepreneurs, corporate partners, and business leaders in order to drive innovation throughout the regional, state, and global economy.  Recognized as a Top 10 Global Incubator in 2014 by UBI, in its first three years LACI has helped 30+ companies who have raised $50+ million and have created 450+ jobs.  Learn more at


LACI Ranked as Top 10 Global Incubator

The UBI Index has ranked the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) in its world-renowned list of top 10 university associated business incubators for 2014 from among over 800 candidates in 67 countries.


“The Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator is one of the top business incubators in the world,” said Dhruv Bhatli, Co-Founder of UBI Index based in Sweden. “It provides exceptional value to its clients who have a higher survival and growth rate than the global average and become very attractive for buyers.”

Based on the one of the most comprehensive frameworks to measure incubator performance, UBI Index examines over 66 distinct criteria to determine each incubator’s economy enhancement performance, such as job creation and talent retention, value for their client base, such as access to funds and competence development, and the client’s post-incubation performance (see for details).

City of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said, “We’re pleased to see this global recognition for the LA Cleantech Incubator, one of the many reasons our city is attracting new innovative and sustainable businesses that grow our local economy.”

“It’s an honor to be selected as a global top 10 incubator, which validates how much we have achieved in less than three years,” said LACI Executive Director Fred Walti. “I’ve had the opportunity to visit many fine innovation institutions around the world as part of our Global Innovation Network initiative and we’re proud to be among this high-performance peer group.”

Combined with the world’s fastest growing sector in clean technology, incubation is widely recognized as being one of the most effective tools for economic development. As incubation and acceleration options grow, it is important for companies to understand what value they get from incubators.

The UBI Index ranking reinforces other significant milestones in Los Angeles this year for LACI: it was selected by the US Department of Energy as one of three incubators nationally to receive funding, it was highlighted by JPMorgan Chase as one of the leading small business clusters in the US, it has publicly launching its first satellite incubator, LACI@CSUN, and the 30 companies that have joined LACI have now raised over $50 million dollars.

California Solar Thermal Industry Approaches Tipping Point

Skyline Innovations, an LACI portfolio company now in their 3rd year of operations in California, unveiled a new solar water heating system for low-income housing this week at Coral Wood Court Apartments. With the addition of this multi-family project, Skyline now produces the equivalent of almost 12,000 megawatt-hours of solar thermal energy nationwide.

WNC & Associates, the industry leader for facilitating affordable housing tax credits with a portfolio of over 1,200 properties, partnered with Skyline to launch this triple-bottom-line project. The partners held a ribbon-cutting event to give a glimpse into the future mainstream appeal and growth potential for the California solar thermal industry. Both Skyline and WNC were presented with sustainability awards by the offices of Congressman Brad Sherman and State Senator Fran Pavley.

Skyline Coral Wood 1 Skyline Coral Wood 2
The event shined light on the realignment of the California Solar Initiative (CSI) Thermal Program that has been galvanized by strong stakeholder enthusiasm. Robin Dutta, who heads up California market development at Skyline Innovations stated,

The solar industry knows the potential of the CSI-Thermal program, but it has fallen well short of expectations. That can all change if the Public Utility Commission acts now to implement the necessary reforms that have been submitted to them. Solar water heating systems such as the one at Coral Wood Court could become commonplace with a successfully restructured CSI-Thermal program.

In contrast, Germany receives less sunlight than just about any region in the continental United States, and yet produces more than six times the amount of solar energy. This resource-production difference can in part be attributed to innovative public policy.

So what’s on the horizon for Skyline? After having developed nearly 20 commercial-scale systems in California, there are 50 more projects in the company’s business development pipeline; production of their next solar thermal system for WNC & Associates began the day after the ribbon cutting event.

Nationally, Skyline has developed over 150 commercial-scale solar water heating systems, primarily in Maryland, California, Hawaii, and the District of Columbia. It’s business model utilizes over $60 million in project capital to fully finance its solar thermal systems through a power purchase agreement and an indexed energy rate that guarantees energy cost savings to customers. Skyline was founded in 2009 and celebrates its 5th year of existence in August 2014.

JPMorgan Chase features LACI as part of $30M, 5-year international small business initiative

LACI is proud to have the recognition and continued support of JPMorgan Chase & Co (Chase) under their Small Business Forward initiative, a five year, $30 million initiative that supports small businesses by connecting them to critical resources to help them grow faster, create jobs and strengthen local economies.

Initial support focuses on four geographic clusters: Los Angeles, Chicago, New Orleans, and San Francisco. The initiative will expand to 10 cities across the country and then expand to additional markets in the US and abroad.  Read the full story here, and see details on the five-year initiative here.

Chase produced a great video that features LACI and our Portfolio Company Isidore Electronics Recycling.

Below are a select few quotes about this critical initiative:

Beyond their vital role in our economy, small businesses are often the source of innovation and inspiration. Helping local, small business clusters grow faster and create more jobs will take JPMorgan Chase’s involvement in the entrepreneurial community to a new level.
– Scott Geller, CEO of Chase Business Banking

JPMorgan Chase’s support of the clean tech sector in Los Angeles is an innovative investment in our city’s future. Small businesses are a key engine of job creation, and JPMorgan Chase’s initiative helps connect small businesses with the resources they need to grow.
– Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles

The best way to build new companies is by creating tightly focused, all-inclusive, small business clusters that harness a region’s strengths.  With JPMorgan Chase’s support, we’re building a cleantech cluster for Los Angeles that’s the second largest green economy in the nation with the highest number of cleantech start-ups.
– Fred Walti, Executive Director of LACI

It takes a cluster to raise a startup

The people and partners in LA’s cleantech cluster are awesome.  Combine creativity with methodology… mix deep resources with nimble innovation… add smart policy… season with expertise… and finish with a dash of fun.  Its a recipe for breakthroughs.  Here’s a snapshot of some recent collaborations with partners that are simply stellar to work with.

SoCalGas Expands LACI Wishlist Engagement

The Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) piloted LACI’s Market WishList program over the past 12 months, a program designed to find the best technical solutions to well-defined challenges that large customers face. LACI focused on sourcing Fuel Cell, Solar Thermal, and Renewable Natural Gas technologies, and SoCalGas established a $1 million Innovation Fund to invest in promising solutions.

After a successful pilot, SoCalGas has expanded their engagement with LACI. The continued pursuit of innovation will center on Gas Compression and Natural Gas Separation Processes.

We’re proud to continue to work with the nation’s largest gas distribution utility.



Tom Steyer Roundtable

Tom Steyer, a key advocate in the charge towards sustainability, held a roundtable discussion with a vibrant group of cleantech leaders at LACI with NextGen Climate. Mr. Steyer sought the diverse perspectives and opinions of business and policy leaders in LACI’s network to help guide action plans for cleantech opportunities and jobs.


Pull Creative wrote a recap of the series to inform entrepreneurs of the importance of Design Thinking

Pull Creative’s recap of the series intended to inform entrepreneurs of the importance of Design Thinking


Design Thinking Workshop Series

LACI’s VP Programs, Erik Steeb, put on a four-part series to inform LACI’s entrepreneurs about Design Thinking methodology and how to incorporate it into their businesses. LACI collaborated with Pull Creative, Motivo Engineering, and Echo-Factory to shed light on an undervalued topic in the cleantech startup world. After receiving positive feedback from participants, Mr. Steeb said, “To get the best result, we partnered with the best. The combination of Pull Creative, Echo-Factory and Motivo Engineering has been a great asset to our companies.” The Design Thinking series was discussed and summarized in Forbes:


The illuminating event was featured in China Daily

The event was featured in China Daily

Doing Business In China

LACI partnered up with Carroll, Burdick & McDonough LLP (CBM LLP) and Beijing 1421 Consulting Co. LTD to put together a series of thorough presentations to convey vital information about how to do business in China. The seminar was led by seasoned executives who know how to help foreign companies get established in China. The topic was on point for the eclectic attendees, ranging from entrepreneurs to the Mayor’s Director of International Trade, who are increasingly creating relations with Chinese investors, companies, and government institutions.

LACI and Partners Win US Department of Energy Support

Award validates California’s first statewide coalition that helps startups commercialize clean technologies from idea to market adoption.

California State Flag

The Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) will receive more than $729,000 from the US Department of Energy to establish the California Cleantech Commercialization Coalition (4C) program, the first statewide partnership to provide comprehensive support to clean energy startups. Led by LACI, with support from key partners Prospect Silicon Valley (ProspectSV), the Cleantech Open (CTO), and Business Cluster Development (BCD), the 4C program is one of just four initiatives selected under the National Incubation Initiative for Clean Energy to commercialize market-ready clean energy technologies.

This powerful group of partners combines to offer clean energy innovators a unique suite of full-spectrum, long-term support services to help them bring promising clean technologies to market. By unifying industry-leading incubation, prototype manufacturing, commercial-scale pilots, and market-entry programs, the 4C program substantially de-risks an inherently risky sector, facilitating investment from a wide array of capital sources in California, the top clean technology market in the nation.

“We believe that the 4C program will revolutionize how the clean energy sector understands and supports commercialization by helping more startup companies navigate the fragile early years,” said Fred Walti, Executive Director of LACI. “This will give investors confidence to engage earlier where capital is most needed, and prove the reward for the market to readily adopt efficient new technologies.”

Combined with the world’s fastest growing sector in clean technology, incubation is widely recognized as being one of the most cost effective economic development strategies for job creation.

“Securing National Incubator Initiative funding is a win for the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator and for the city as a whole,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “This funding will further LA’s leadership in clean energy, and I know LACI will be key in creating jobs and opportunities to train Angelenos for tomorrow’s green careers, today.”

The 4C team leverages two next-generation physical centers designed to build and demonstrate new clean energy solutions, each strategically located in downtown Los Angeles and in Silicon Valley and connected to an extensive network of world-class partners, supporters, and affiliates.

“Teaming Prospect Silicon Valley and the LA Cleantech Incubator is a tremendous asset for San Jose and California,” said Kim Walesh, Director of Economic Development and Chief Strategist, City of San Jose. “This partnership will bring critical resources to an under-served community. As the largest city in Northern California and an established center for clean-tech innovation, we look forward to more collaboration with LACI.”

Douglas Davenport, Executive Director of ProspectSV, added, “ProspectSV is really proud to be part of the 4C partnership and to be on California’s only team selected for this investment. Our work in the Bay Area is so complementary to LACI and the LA Basin, this really is an exciting time for us.”

There is no shortage of exciting clean energy technology emerging in California, evidenced in part by the 50 cleantech startups that qualify in the west each year for the nation’s largest clean technology accelerator, the Cleantech Open.

“Through the relationship with LACI, the NIICE grant and the programs it will enable, we now have great partners that can carry on the development and support of these startups after they’ve completed the Cleantech Open accelerator program,” said Erik Steeb, Executive Director of the Cleantech Open western division.

The 4C program will extend and unify help for these promising startups from idea to market adoption.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to work with the LA Cleantech Incubator and Prospect Silicon Valley and help provide badly needed commercialization and incubation services throughout California to entrepreneurs developing clean technology for the largest environmental marketplace in the U.S.,” said Jim Robbins, Partner at BCD.

US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced the $3.2 million launch of the National Incubator Initiative for Clean Energy (NIICE) last week. Other recipients include regional projects based in Texas and the Midwest as well as a national organization coordinating clean-energy business incubators nationwide.

About the 4C Program Partners

logo_laci_200x100 LACI is a non-profit, public-private partnership that helps promising companies deliver market-ready cleantech solutions, and the jobs that come with them. In a very short time, LACI has proven a successful incubation and commercialization model and established itself as a global leader among cleantech incubators. LACI combines universities, research, government support, capital, entrepreneurs, corporate partners, and business association leaders in order to drive innovation throughout the regional economy. In its first 30 months, LACI incubated 30 companies that received over $30M in funding and created over 300 jobs. By 2016, LACI projects its companies will have created over 1,600 jobs and have generated over $80M in sales. A broad, regional approach allows LACI to serve over ten million people and act as the State of California’s largest regional Innovation Hub (iHub).
logo_psv_200x100 ProspectSV is the first nonprofit, Silicon Valley-based commercialization catalyst for the next generation of technology for cities everywhere. ProspectSV provides a full spectrum of support to emerging technology companies, including access to the $12 million, 23,000 sq. ft. Technology Demonstration Center with working space and resources (lab facilities, specialized equipment), meeting rooms, and a suite of commercialization support services. ProspectSV provides unrivaled access to public infrastructure to develop and prove new efficient and effective technologies. ProspectSV partners with the entire ecosystem (from domain leaders and researchers to emerging technology companies to investors and municipalities), ultimately helping cities and companies alike save energy costs, reduce energy use and cut emissions.
logo_cto_200x100 The Cleantech Open runs the world’s largest cleantech accelerator. Its mission is to find, fund and foster entrepreneurs with big ideas that address today’s most urgent energy, environmental and economic challenges. A 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, the Cleantech Open provides the infrastructure, expertise and strategic relationships that turn clever ideas into successful global cleantech companies. Since 2006, through its one-of-a-kind annual accelerator and mentorship program, the Cleantech Open has enabled 865 cleantech startups to bring their breakthrough ideas to fruition, helped its alumni companies raise more than $950M in external capital, and created thousands of green-collar jobs. Fueled by a global network of more than 1,500 volunteers and sponsors, the Cleantech Open unites the public and private sectors in a shared vision for making America’s and the world’s cleantech sectors a thriving economic engine.
logo_bcd_200x100 BCD is a recognized leader in the creation of sector-focused business incubation, acceleration and technology commercialization programs for universities, corporations, and communities. BCD’s core services include business incubation/acceleration planning and development, incubator/accelerator operations and sustainability, innovation ecosystem strategies, cluster-based economic development approaches, and technology demonstration and commercialization programs.


The Goods, the BEEs, and the Ease

The Downtown Los Angeles skyline isn’t the only thing scaling up these days. The cleantech startup community here at LACI is doing really exciting stuff. Recent highlights include:

A New BEE in the Hive

Hive Lighting’s high-performance, super-efficient breakthroughs for the lighting market continue with their new BEE Plasma Flood. The light delivers high-quality output comparable to (if not immensely better) than any conventional fixture… which you’d expect, until you learn it uses half the energy, weighs a mere 10 pounds, produces virtually no heat, is priced at or below competition. Jon Miller showcased the BEE to a receptive market at the NAB show:


A Movement for Better Goods Movement

Current port and freight infrastructure feels a lot like AOL and the dial-up modem when you see the vision of GRID Logistics. SuperDocks, Freightways, and Terminals… smart and connected, and off the freeways. It’s easy to buy into their vision, and it isn’t as far away as you might think. GRID is working with CSUN on a $1.7M, 20-month feasibility study of the project, backed by an historic resolution of support from the Sierra Club advocating a multi-billion dollar transportation project. Add support from the Laborers, Teamsters, and Equipment operators unions, and this movement is gaining serious momentum. David Alba tells the story with RedB.


Solar Made Simple – The Time Has Come

What if you could go solar, knowing that a trusted friend would not only help you understand what’s right for you, but also get you the best bids from the best installers, and make it easy? Oh, and they’d do it for free… you wouldn’t even need to buy them a drink. That friend is Pick My Solar, and we’re not the only ones that believe they’re awesome. They’re off to a running start, with happy customers and happy installers singing their praises.


About LACI

Through its formalized support system, deep bench of expert mentors, strong network of investment capital and market sources, and pragmatic education and training, LACI assists nascent cleantech companies to navigate the difficult startup years. The results are new cleantech jobs among its portfolio companies, new environmentally responsible and efficient products and services on the market, and renewed interest among regional business and academic partners to continue supporting cleantech technologies.

LACI combines universities, research, government support, capital, entrepreneurs, corporate partners, and business association leaders in order to drive innovation throughout the regional economy. By summer 2015, LACI will move in to the state-of-the-art La Kretz facility, which will host a wide range of spaces that include offices, benches, wet labs, meeting rooms, event spaces, and an adjacent prototype manufacturing workshop.

In just over 2 years, LACI has incubated 30 companies that have received over $30 million in funding and have created over 300 jobs.