Category: Portfolio Companies

LACI Welcomes Next Cohort of Cleantech Startups Into Incubation Program

Today, 13 startups join Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator’s (LACI) second cohort of its flagship Incubation Program, which helps founders grow their company and impact in Greater Los Angeles and beyond. From utilizing software analytics to reduce traffic congestion to diverting over 5 tons of waste from landfills using a rental clothing membership model, Incubation Cohort 2 founders are showing up with passion, grit, and inspiring leadership to enhance LACI’s commitment to building an inclusive green economy.

“LACI is committed to helping our startups improve their environmental, social, and economic impact—that’s why we are excited to welcome our new cohort of companies,” said Matt Petersen, LACI President and CEO. “Our startup Impact Framework measures and financially rewards founder diversity, hiring employees from disadvantaged communities, and reducing GHG emissions.”

In line with LACI’s mission to create an inclusive green economy, Incubation Cohort 2 represents 38 percent female founders, 38 percent underrepresented founders, and 8 percent veteran founders, a general increase from Incubation Cohort 1 metrics. 

Startups applied to LACI’s program following a recruitment push that articulated LACI’s specific technical priorities for the year.  Sector-wise 46 percent are focused on zero emissions mobility, 23 percent on clean energy, and 31 percent on circular economy.

LACI companies are stepping up to create an inclusive green economy for the people of Los Angeles. For example, as the city and the rest of the state move towards 100 percent clean energy, there is much needed work to be done to decrease costs of solar and battery energy storage and advance data processing capabilities to create greater grid resilience. Widespread deployment of smart microgrids are the way of the future and LACI Incubation Cohort 2 startups have already begun the work. IQHi, Inc. incorporates data analytics tools to gain operational data thus improving battery technology development time and OpenEGrid applies emerging technologies to legacy Energy Systems to create ‘Smart Grids.’

By progressing the work of IQHi Inc. and OpenEGrid for example, LACI will provide a stepping stone for one of the solutions in addressing current complications in distributed energy resources (DERs) and addressing the ambitious climate and energy goals California has in place already. 

For the next two years, Cohort 2 startups will engage in an intensive 6 months of curriculum covering essential topics to prepare founders and teams for operational growth, product development, investor preparedness, pilot readiness, and strategies for going to market. Additionally, each startup team is matched with an Executive in Residence (EIR) who will support in setting a roadmap and holding teams accountable for achieving those milestones. Cohort 2 startups will build a network not only with their fellow Cohort members, but also with the greater LACI community to enable a collaborative and supportive environment for achieving growth towards a greener planet. 

Throughout the first year of our revamped Incubation Program, we’re proud to say that Cohort 1 startups are paving the way for what LACI can do to support cleantech founders, empower impact, deploy these innovative technologies all across the world. Since joining LACI, collectively Cohort 1 startups have raised over $7.5 million including Sparkcharge’s $1 million deal from SharkTank’s Mark Cuban. LACI’s workforce development program helped initiate ChargerHelp!’s pilot by training their first 10 hires and providing maintenance to 46 electric vehicle stations in Southern California and the company just raised $2.75 million from investors. In addition, Maxwell Vehicles is one of many partners and startups helping to excel deployment of the nation’s first-ever Zero Emission Delivery Zone, furthering LACI’s mission by lowering emissions and decreasing traffic.

We’re thrilled to support another Cohort of 13 innovative startups for the next two years. Read more about Cohort 2 startups below. 

ChargeNet Stations: LACI’s Innovators Cohort 5 startup, ChargeNet is a SaaS company helping fast food restaurants and property owners track consumer data and renewable energy to charge electric vehicles quicker and cheaper. 

Chargeway: Chargeway created a software platform, mobile app, and communication tool to help consumers understand how electric vehicles are charged, as well as helping the automotive industry sell EVs for easier adoption. 

ElectricFish:  ElectricFish builds, deploys, and operates distributed energy resources integrated with 350kW Electric Vehicle chargers to bring clean, and robust sources of power to communities.

Gemini Electric Mobility Co.: Gemini Electric Mobility Co. is a sustainable mobility platform that provides affordable Electric Vehicles and convenient access to charging, for all, today. By starting with those who drive the most and have the biggest impact, we’re accelerating electric mobility adoption and getting closer to a pollution-free skyline!

GreenTek Packaging: LACI’s Innovator Cohort 5 startup, GreenTek Packaging creates compostable plasticware made from industrial hemp and corn byproducts.

IQHi, Inc.: IQHi builds advanced data analytics tool sets to help gaining in-depth insights from energy storage system operational data for better products and shorter developing time for their clients.

LAMAR, IoT: LACI’s Innovator Cohort 5 startup, LAMAR, IoT is developing new sustainable supply chain solutions to reduce costs, inefficiencies, and mitigate waste towards a zero emissions planet. 

OpenEGrid: Analytics platform to apply the emerging technologies in Big Data, Analytics, and Cloud Computing to legacy Energy Systems in order to significantly improve interoperability across Distributed Energy Resources in what is now emerging as the ‘Smart Grid’.

PLUS: Portable zero emission electric vehicles for round trips under 12 miles.

Rent-a-Romper: A rental clothing company for babies and toddlers because kids (out)grow so fast. Rent-a-Romper set out to build a community-shared closet, filled with great baby and children’s clothing, so that you don’t have to spend time shopping and looking for deals.  

Sensagrate: Sensagrate (which stands for sensor integrated technology) is developing an industry-defining, infrastructure-to-vehicle (I2V) communication platform that provides data to support intelligent decision making for both human-driven and autonomous vehicles to foster safer interaction as they navigate our roadways. 

Verity Packaging, Inc.: Verity is on a mission to eliminate waste from the beauty and personal care industry by making a circular economy approachable and affordable for retailers, brands, and consumers. We make reusable containers and offer a turnkey take-back service to collect, sanitize, and put containers back to use.

LACI Announces First Year of Investments from $5 Million Early Stage Impact Investment Fund

Exactly one year ago, LACI announced the LACI Impact Fund (LIF) for early-stage cleantech startups, as part of a relaunch of its cohort-based startup program. The $5 million LIF considers investment in LACI portfolio companies that are in good standing, have an active round of investment with a lead investor, and have demonstrated strong commitment to impact. The LIF provides our startups with an opportunity to have access to capital that aligns with LACI’s social impact priorities. In 2020, LACI invested in 6 companies, with a number of companies in its pipeline for future investments.

LACI-incubated startups are eligible to apply to the LIF if they: A) have an open and active round with a specified lead; B) secure a sufficient score based on their commitment to environmental, social and economic impact. Startups selected for this year’s incubation cohort will be eligible for investments as well. The application deadline is this Friday, January 15. Startups selected for LACI’s incubation program and for the LACI Impact Fund must focus on one of LACI’s Technological Priorities: Zero Emissions Transportation, Clean Energy and Circular Economy.

“Through the LACI Impact Fund, we are delighted to invest in our startup companies that are working day in and out to create an inclusive green economy,” said Matt Petersen, Managing Director of the Fund and CEO of LACI, reflecting on the investments to date.

The launch of the LIF included investments in Seatrec and FreeWire. Subsequently, 6 companies received funding from the Impact Fund in 2020, and continue to scale their products into markets across the country and world. All LACI Impact Fund companies are listed below:

  • Ampaire
    Founders: Kevin Noertker & Cory Combs
    Company Mission: Ampaire is designing and developing high performance zero-emission aircraft to help improve efficiency and reduce aviation’s impact on climate change.
  • Envoy
    Founders: Aric Ohana & Ori Sagie
    Company Mission: Envoy is committed to providing affordable, convenient and sustainable shared mobility to communities by offering Mobility as an Amenity™ where you live, work, or stay.
  • FreeWire
    Founder: Arcady Sosinov
    Company Mission: FreeWire Technologies provides clean, quiet mobile power and fast charging that’s easy to deploy, wherever and whenever you need it.
  • Nature Coatings
    Founder: Jane Palmer
    Company Mission: Nature Coatings transforms wood waste into high performing black pigments.
  • Pick My Solar
    Founders: Max Aram & Chris Blevins
    Company Mission: Pick My Solar is the first managed marketplace for the residential solar and energy storage market.
  • Repurpose
    Founder:
    Lauren Gropper
    Company Mission: Repurpose is a line of sustainable tableware that looks out for the health of you, your family, and the planet.
  • Seatrec
    Founder: Yi Chao
    Company Mission: Seatrec designs and manufactures energy harvesting solutions that generate electricity from naturally occurring temperature differences in ocean waters.
  • Xeal
    Founders: Xander Isaacson & Nikhil Bhardwaj
    Company Mission: Xeal accelerates electric vehicle adoption by making charging stations work anywhere for anyone.

The LACI Impact Fund will continue investing in new cleantech innovation throughout 2021. To find out more about the LACI Incubation Program or the Impact Fund, please visit LACI’s Incubation Program. Applications for the 2nd Incubation Cohort program are open until January 15th, 2021. 

Circuit Provides New Rochelle’s ‘Drive’ To a Smart & Sustainable City

The City of New Rochelle is in the middle of a remarkable once-in-a-generation redevelopment of its Downtown Corridor across 12 million square feet to build thousands of new units of housing and create an environment where New Rochelle can lead on culture, community, and innovation.  But like any new building, our redevelopment is also prioritizing the amenities and quality-of-life that come along with it, including doubling down on our transportation and technology strategy that New Rochelle is integrating into the very fabric of our transformation into a smart city, a key component to encourage and promote future growth. And one of the city’s “smartest” investments to date has been its new free, on-demand, electric shuttle service Circuit New Rochelle (NR).

Accelerating a Reliable, Clean Energy Future

This past summer California experienced extreme heat due to the climate crisis, exacerbating and challenging the electric grid to maintain reliable electric service. The result of raging wildfires and prolonged heat waves combined with other grid planning factors led to power outages and rotating blackouts that had not occurred since the 2001 energy crisis.  Severe weather conditions, like the summer heat wave, create new challenges in keeping the lights on, exacerbating grid weaknesses, and disproportionately putting vulnerable communities at risk. 

In response to the climate crisis which is impacting California at a pace ahead of scientific models, Governor Gavin Newsom has announced his commitment to explore accelerating the state’s decarbonization goals, including the goal of a clean energy grid by 2045. At a press conference in fire-stricken Butte County, Newsom stated, “I think 2045 is too late” to get to a clean energy grid. 

These distressing conditions can serve as a catalyst to develop an electric system that can better withstand the consequences of climate change, while accelerating our move to clean energy as well as transportation electrification. As such, the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) supports the Governor’s commitment to accelerate the transition to a clean energy grid that was established by groundbreaking legislation in SB 100 and his recent Executive Order to accelerate the deployment of electric transportation. 

These market signals from California policy makers, along with a Biden Administration that is supportive of an ambitious and equitable clean energy revolution, call for innovation from our state’s entrepreneurs. At LACI, we are demonstrating how these clean technologies will enable this improved, resilient grid through startups, partnerships, and pilots.

Exactly one month before California experienced its first of two rotating blackouts, LACI launched a small-scale electric vehicle (EV) community car-share pilot that is illustrating resiliency on the electric grid. LACI, in partnership with community partner Pacoima Beautiful, Envoy – a LACI startup – and Nissan deployed EVs to a community center in the San Fernando Gardens housing development, while keeping the needs of the community front and center. At the core, the pilot provides affordable and accessible clean transportation options, which are critical to the low-income community that is also burdened by poor air quality and can lack access to transportation. 

To ensure resiliency, we incorporated an off-grid, solar-powered electric vehicle supply equipment with battery backup that can serve as an emergency source of power for portable devices in the event of a power outage.  As the public and private sectors work together to create a clean, reliable electricity grid, we need to think creatively about how we can incorporate these types of solutions across every neighborhood.

Along with off-grid and local clean energy solutions, a modern, reliable grid will also need to solve for utility scale technologies. California has done an incredible job of accelerating the adoption of solar energy with approximately 28,000 megawatts installed since 2005. As Governor Newsom moves to accelerate solar and clean energy ahead of 2045, the fast deployment of various forms of storage is necessary. Alumina Energy, another LACI startup, provides distributed and utility energy storage solutions that turn renewables into 24-hour dispatchable resources that are cost-competitive or lower than fossil fuels. Alumina’s technology is a packed bed thermal energy storage that has a 30+ years life cycle – making it cost-effective and a long-term solution. This type of distributed and utility-scale technology becomes even more critical when we think about the diverse set of solutions we’ll need to properly respond to the disruptive and different types of extreme weather events. 


(Pictured: the launch of Pacoima Electro-Share with
Pacoima Beautiful and Envoy in the early summer of 2020)

Lastly, when we think of grid resiliency, we also need to consider the energy-transportation nexus. California is a leader when it comes to clean transportation. The state has a goal for there to be 5 million EVs on California roads by 2030 and recently, the Governor signed an executive order to phase out the sale of new gas-powered passenger cars and trucks by 2035 and a transition to 100% zero-emission heavy duty short-haul drayage trucks by 2035 and other heavy-duty vehicles by 2045. 

LACI and the Transportation Electrification Partnership (TEP) are working towards a target of 30% of all passenger cars in LA County to be electric by the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games. As we work with our partners to advance progress towards these goals, we are supporting the discovery of new technologies that are needed to enable greater use of EVs and the efficient dispatch of energy, as needed, to support the grid. AMPLY Power and NeoCharge are two LACI startups that demonstrate this insight. AMPLY Power offers customized charging solutions to commercial fleet operators that optimize grid conditions to maximize savings. NeoCharge optimizes EV charging solutions in a manner that makes charging more cost-competitive for apartments and condos, while also supporting the needs of the grid. Additional work is needed to ensure these types of vehicle-to-grid and vehicle-to-building technologies are incentivized to come online to support grid resiliency. 

As California establishes new climate goals, we need to keep in mind that we need to move aggressively and inclusively to meet the needs of a clean and reliable energy grid. These recent heat waves, combined with massive wildfires throughout the state, demonstrate that we need to act now. LACI will continue to drive forth solutions and innovations with the public and private sectors to ensure an equitable, clean, and reliable energy future.

Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator reboots its incubation program with 16-member cohort

The Los Angeles Cleantch Incubator is rebooting its incubator program and moving from rolling applications to a cohort model beginning with 16 new startups. 

Los Angeles’ not-for-profit incubator exchanges sweat equity in the form of services and office space, and the promise of $20,000 in funding for local pilot projects, for a 1.5% to 3% stake in a company.

LA Cleantech Incubator Announces New Cohort of Startups with Over 50% Founders of Color, Nearly 40% Women

Updated Incubation Program Includes the First Ever Equity Earn Back Option for Founders; New Cohort are Advancing Zero Emissions Mobility, Clean Energy, and Other Climate Tech Solutions While Creating Green Jobs


LOS ANGELES, CA (April 20, 2020) – Today the
Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) announced the first cohort of 16 startups selected to participate in its renewed LACI Incubation Program. 

The startups are led by the most diverse slate of founders in LACI history, with 31% of the participating entrepreneurs female, 56% persons of color, and 6% veterans. Half of the startups in the new cohort are focused on zero emissions mobility, 25% on clean energy, and 25% on the circular economy. A more detailed overview of each of the 16 startups is below. 

“LACI is committed to not only incubating startups whose solutions are key in tackling the climate crisis and creating green jobs, we need to support underrepresented entrepreneurs who reflect our energetic, diverse, and innovative city,” says Matt Petersen, CEO of  the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator. “Cleantech entrepreneurs and startups are key to restarting our economy and ensuring that the improved air quality we are enjoying right now remains permanent.”

The new two-year incubation program was created to help entrepreneurs, including entrepreneurs from underrepresented groups, with game-changing climate and clean technologies to become market and investor ready. The program also includes the first-of-its-kind equity earnback approach, where LACI returns a portion of the equity stake to founders as they and their startups make demonstrated, lasting commitments to key impact milestones. Linking social, economic and environmental goals to finances embeds LACI’s commitment to impact and provides an attractive investment for impact-focused investors. 

The 2020 LACI Incubation Program officially kicked off on April 20, 2020.

***

About the 2020 LA Cleantech Incubator Cohort:

  • Alumina Energy
      • Alumina Energy is a U.S based energy storage technology company designing and building Alumina Packed Bed Energy Storage systems for the utility, industrial, and commercial scale power generation and process heat markets.
  • CERO Bikes
      • CERO Bikes is a family-owned and operated business that designs and produces compact electric cargo bike, purpose-built to move people and goods.
  • ChargerHelp!
      • The ChargerHelp! App enables on-demand repair of electric vehicle charging stations by utilizing local workforces.
  • ePave
      • ePAVE is a revolutionary high performance cold applied Polymer Enhanced Composite overlay product for roads that can reduce greenhouse gas effects. 
  • InPipe Energy
      • InPipe Energy is a renewable energy and smart water technology company focused on generating low cost, clean electricity from the flow of water in gravity fed water pipelines to improve resiliency in cities and communities around the world.
  • Jump Watts 
      • Jump Watts is working to create zero emission infrastructure for e-mobility by building charging stations that are mobile and efficient, as well as stationary and convenient.
  • Maxwell Vehicles
      • Maxwell Vehicles designs and manufactures electric powertrains for commercial vehicles bringing operators a cost-effective and environmentally friendly solution.
  • NeoCharge 
      • NeoCharge manufactures smart splitters that allows safe, easy, and fast electric vehicle home charging without the need of a panel upgrade or making changes to the home.
  • Noria
      • Noria is revolutionizing the way critical infrastructure and industrial processes are run using real-time surface monitoring and machine learning.
  • Prime Lightworks
      • Prime Lightworks makes breakthrough electric propulsion systems for space satellites that are solar powered, fully renewable, and consume zero fuel.
  • SEED
      • SEED offers a full-service, technologically-advanced “farm in a box” that offers easy technical skills to anyone who wants to grow their own produce to help fight world hunger and impact climate change.
  • SparkCharge 
      • SparkCharge makes a modular electric vehicle charging unit and partners with roadside assistance providers to service electric vehicle owners when they run out of range.
  • Substance Power and Mobility 
      • Substance Power and Mobility builds energy storage hardware aiming to revolutionize the way we store renewable energy and distribute power across infrastructure, industry and transportation. 
  • Sustainable Building Council 
      • The Sustainable Building Council manufactures low-cost, steel modular structures with grid independent water and power to combat the affordable housing crisis.
  • TBM Designs 
      • TMB produces self-shading window systems using a thermo-bimetal that dramatically reduces artificial cooling needs by reducing solar heat gain.
  • Xeal 
      • Xeal is an electric car charging platform that makes EV chargers profitable assets to own for apartments and workplaces.

Thanks to the City of Los Angeles Mayor and City Council’s support, the Economic and Workforce Development Department provides LACI with CDBG economic development funding to run our incubation programming. LACI and startups we support are housed at the La Kretz Incubation Campus (LKIC), a world class LEED Platinum and WELL Gold certified facility owned by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and managed by LACI.

 

About LACI

The Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI), a City of Los Angeles established nonprofit organization, is creating an inclusive green economy by: unlocking innovation through working with startups to accelerate the commercialization of clean technologies, transforming markets through partnerships with policymakers, innovators and market leaders in transportation, energy and sustainable cities; and enhancing communities through workforce development, pilots and other programs. Founded as an economic development initiative by the City of Los Angeles and its Department of Water & Power (LADWP), LACI is recognized as one of the most innovative business incubators in the world by UBI. In the past eight years, LACI has helped 78 portfolio companies raise $221M in funding, $220M in revenue, create 1,750 jobs, and deliver more than $393M in long term economic value. Learn more at laci.org.

 

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