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LACI Announces First-of-Its-Kind Debt Fund

 

Revolving Debt Fund helps startups scale, with a focus on under-resourced founders

Pilot program results validate need for early-stage cleantech debt solutions

Second funder in fund, Union Bank, marks shift beyond pilot stage

 

LACI’s mission of creating an inclusive green economy involves helping cleantech founders access the right capital to scale their startups, ultimately resulting in revenues, job creation and environmental impact. Over the past decade of incubation, LACI realized that debt needed to play a role in scaling cleantech startups much earlier than conventionally understood

Most early-stage startups rely almost exclusively on equity investment, primarily venture capital (VC). This reliance often leads to:

  • Founder dilution, with the median founder owning 15% of their company at exit. 
  • Recourse to risky and expensive alternatives. No early-stage startup is able to accurately forecast all of its expenses. As a result, many founders avail themselves of credit card debt when unexpected business opportunities arise or provide personal collateral for loans, a practice that prevents under-resourced but talented founders from scaling their ventures.
  • Lack of capital for founders of color. Over the course of five years, Crunchbase found that just 2.4% of total VC funding went to Black and Latino/Hispanic founders, despite the Black and Latino/Hispanic population equalling roughly 31% of the population. LACI founders are even more diverse, with approximately 33% of incubation program founders coming from the Black and Latino/Hispanic community.

Finding a way to prudently and cost-effectively layer in debt earlier in the process would:

  • Allow funders more choice about how much equity investment to take on, and when, plus enable founders to reduce their ownership dilution.
  • Prevent founders from taking on risky alternatives, such as personal credit card debt.
  • Allow founders of color greater access to capital to grow their startups. Although debt funders such as banks need to improve their track record in terms of lending to Black and Latino/Hispanic founders, they often fare better than their VC counterparts.

To address this problem, LACI won a grant from the Department of Energy’s Capital Access Program in 2017 to research and structure a debt fund to support LACI’s early stage cleantech founders. This research was initially shared at a Clinton Foundation economic conference in November of 2019, with private-sector lenders and public-sector officials validating the model to create a revolving debt fund focused on working capital and business expansion, with capital coming from philanthropic or program-related investment capital. LACI’s research revealed that private banks and other financial intermediaries clearly see the need and demand for such lending, but struggled to find their path to cost effectively serve the market, other than by having founders use traditional products, such as second mortgages and credit card debt.

In 2020, Wells Fargo invested the first loan capital into the LACI Debt Fund, an initial $110,000 contribution to pilot the concept of providing loans of $20k-$40k with interest rates at or below market for LACI companies who do not yet qualify for traditional loans. 

Today, LACI is pleased to exit stealth mode operations of the LACI Debt Fund by announcing that it has approved the 10th loan of the LACI Debt Fund. While the Debt Fund is modest in size, initial recipients of loans from the LACI Debt Fund have subsequently raised close to $100M in follow-on funding from both equity and debt sources, validating the crucial role that early stage debt can play as part of a comprehensive incubation experience.

 

With the number of successful loans entering the double digits, LACI has opened up the Debt Fund to other funders. Last week, Union Bank cemented its participation in the LACI Debt Fund, increasing the fund loan capital by almost 50% to $160k. The increased capital marks the end of the pilot phase and commencement of expanded operations, including being able to regularly support more LACI founders with additional loans.

Prospective startups interested in learning about the Debt Fund as part of LACI’s overall incubation services should reach out to pipeline@laci.org. Funders interested in supporting the LACI Debt Fund via philanthropic or program-related investment capital should reach out development@laci.org.

U.S. Department of Energy awards $9.5 Million to Support Clean Energy Innovation and Commercialization across America

Energy Program for Innovation Clusters Strengthens Innovation Ecosystem Development in Ten Regions Around the United States

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today awarded Energy Program for Innovation Clusters (EPIC) funding to ten incubators and accelerators that will harness regional ingenuity and resources, develop pipelines for energy technology to reach the market, and stimulate the formation of new businesses to reach the Biden-Harris Administration’s goal of a net-zero carbon economy by 2050.

“The clean energy market is growing at a breakneck pace, and America’s innovators need the tools to keep up on a competitive global stage,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “This funding fills a critical need for targeted financial support to incubators and accelerators that provide opportunity for aspiring energy entrepreneurs looking to fight climate change, create jobs, and empower underserved communities.”

This funding announcement is the second of a two-part program created by DOE’s Office of Technology Transitions (OTT)—in collaboration with DOE’s Building Technologies Office, the Arctic Energy Office, and the Office of Electricity—to support robust energy innovation ecosystems and stimulate energy hardware development in regions across the United States. Previously, DOE awarded $1 million to 20 incubators and accelerators across the nation.

“I was proud to support the Midwest Regional Innovation Partnership and its partners’ request for this Department of Energy grant, which has the potential to grow the innovation ecosystem in the Midwest,” said U.S. Senator Dick Durbin. “This federal funding will increase the rate of technology commercialization in the region and help companies create more high-tech domestic jobs.”

“I’m thrilled to see the Department of Energy announce $9.5 million to support clean energy innovation and commercialization. This funding will bring together researchers, innovators, investors, and adopters from across the energy innovation ecosystem to act as a catalyst for the development, commercialization, and transfer of energy technologies. I fully support strengthening the portfolio of technologies we are researching, enhancing their commercialization, and pursuing every opportunity to advance the United States’ competitive advantages, and I will continue to push for investments in these much-needed technologies of the future,” said U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

“Los Angeles has long been known as America’s innovation hub and an emerging leader in technology and clean energy. Today’s announcement is both welcome news for the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator and the City of Los Angeles as this $1 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy will help encourage the growth of new clean-tech jobs in California’s 34th Congressional District and beyond,” said U.S. Representative Jimmy Gomez. [Read the full press release.]

Today’s funding awards allocate approximately $9.5 million across ten organizations:

  • Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) (Los Angeles, CA) – Leveraging a Southern California Energy Innovation Cluster to Pilot & Validate Emerging Energy Technologies (Award Amount: $1,000,000). LACI aims to scale the impact of its incubation program and accelerate the momentum of early-stage companies toward investment and customer-paid commercial deployments of their emerging clean energy technologies through startup pilots designed with input from stakeholders across the clean energy ecosystem within the Los Angeles County/greater Southern California region.
  • New Energy Nexus (New York City, NY) – The Clean Fight: Bringing NY’s Best (Award Amount: $992,970). New Energy Nexus NY’s project will create a statewide energy storage hardware innovation cluster to accelerate New York’s energy storage manufacturing industry, positioning it as a U.S. hub for energy storage innovation, research, development, and manufacturing.
  • Clean Energy Trust (Chicago, IL) – Midwest Regional Innovation Partnership (MRIP) (Award Amount: $909,411). MRIP will enable Midwest energy hardware and related technology startups to scale, attract capital, create jobs, and drive economic development in the Midwest. MRIP will launch three new accelerator programs, which will benefit from MRIP partners’ collective expertise, resources, and reach.
  • Regents of New Mexico State University (Las Cruces, NM) – New Mexico Clean Energy Resilience and Growth (NM CERG) Cluster (Award Amount: $1,000,000). NM CERG will work with regional stakeholders to pivot current and create new programming for an idea-to-business pipeline for startups commercializing clean energy technologies.
  • Syracuse University (Syracuse, NY) – Energy Program Innovation Cluster for Equity and Health in Grid-interactive Efficient Buildings (EPIC GEB) (Award Amount: $750,000). Syracuse’s project will fertilize the regional ecosystem of companies making energy hardware and related products required to achieve next-generation Grid-interactive Efficient Buildings. The project will emphasize products for the building sector of the economy, which takes advantage of the region’s long history of successful businesses in this sector. Following DOE’s Equity in Energy Initiative, ventures and companies will learn about the positive outcomes that can be achieved through development, design, and construction of hardware through an equity lens.
  • United States Research Impact Alliance (USRIA) (Morgantown, WV) – IMPACT Accelerator (Award Amount: $1,000,000). USRIA’s IMPACT Accelerator will identify and mature federally funded technologies that have the potential to solve a targeted set of challenges for the energy and manufacturing industries. The IMPACT acceleration process operates with a “market-pull” orientation and more deeply engages with industry stakeholders on the targeted issues.
  • Launch Alaska (Anchorage, AK) – Launch Alaska Transportation and Energy Accelerator (LATEA) (Award Amount: $882,999). Launch Alaska will stimulate energy and related hardware technology development and rapidly expand the growing cluster of innovative companies developing and deploying energy solutions in Alaska. The project will enhance Launch Alaska’s resilience and operational sustainability, leading to greater development of transportation and energy-related hardware technologies in Alaska.
  • Colorado State University (Fort Collins, CO) – Colorado Energy Innovation Collaborative (CEIC) (Award Amount: $1,000,000). Colorado State University’s project will create an energy hardtech accelerator that will support two cohorts of up to 20 founders. The proposed Rockies/Plains Energy Accelerator for Commercializing Hardtech (REACH) is tailored to the specific needs of the Rocky Mountains Great Plains region – an area spanning over 40% of the Lower Continental United States that produces 25% of the nation’s energy.
  • E4 Carolinas, Inc. (Charlotte, NC) – Regional Energy Hardware Innovation Accelerator (Award Amount: $999,704). E4 Carolina’s project will identify and define the region’s energy hardware clusters and engage cluster members to support the accelerator in selectively identifying U.S. hardware-focused ventures each year, connecting ventures with advisors and resources, and building regional capacity for innovation though proof-of-concept demonstrations with prospective customers.
  • VertueLab (Portland, OR) – Northwest Cleantech Innovation Network (NWCIN) (Award Amount: $999,613). VertueLab’s project will add new programs to specifically address the challenges facing new energy hardware technology start-ups. NWCIN will establish a regional entrepreneurial support system and network of resources for integrated outreach, education, and company screening, and will provide support to Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Alaska entrepreneurs and cleantech startups through four assistance programs.

Established in 2015, OTT advances the economic, energy, and national security interests of the United States by expanding the commercial impact of DOE’s research and development portfolio. OTT spearheads programs that support commercialization and fosters DOE’s strong internal and external partnerships that guide innovations from the lab to the marketplace.

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California Senate Passes SB 551 with Bipartisan Support to Establish Electric Vehicle Authority

The Transportation Electrification Partnership & LACI-Sponsored Proposal Would Accelerate Equitable Adoption of EVs Statewide

LOS ANGELES, CA – On Friday, the California State Senate approved SB 551, a bill that would create the California Electric Vehicle Authority to ensure California meets Governor Gavin Newsom’s executive order to transition to 100 percent zero-emissions cars sold and 100 percent of zero-emissions drayage trucks on the road by 2035.

The Transportation Electrification Partnership (TEP) members and the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) are leading a statewide coalition that includes more than 70 cities, environmental justice, public health, and other advocacy organizations as well as EV manufacturing, charging and utility companies to support the creation of a high-level EV Authority to be housed in the Governor’s office. The EV Authority would bring coordination, accountability, financing, and a focus on ensuring equitable outcomes in accelerating California’s transition to zero-emission transportation. The Authority would also include a focus on related economic development and workforce training priorities.

LACI CEO and LACI Transportation Electrification Partnership Chair Matt Petersen released the following statement in response to SB 551’s passage in the Senate:

“To help accelerate the economy-wide transition to zero-emission transportation and ensure that no communities are left behind, TEP members, LACI, and our over 70 member coalition have advocated for the creation of the California EV Authority to meet the goals of EO N-79-20. Led by a senior czar in the Governor’s horseshoe–and who is accountable to the Governor, Legislature and in turn the public–the Authority can ensure the Governor’s bold proposal to invest billions of dollars into zero-emission transportation are efficiently and expeditiously spent while ensuring maximum benefit to disadvantaged communities, that our state’s workforce are prepared, and we leverage private sector investment for continued economic growth.

“Transitioning to 100 percent zero-emission cars, buses and trucks is a transformative and achievable goal that will require a whole-of-government approach to make it happen. The urgency of the climate crisis and the disproportionate burden of air pollution upon disadvantaged communities forced to breathe unhealthy air means we need an all-hands-on-deck plan to move to zero emissions. The EV Authority can ensure that California’s government agencies and leaders make that promise a reality.

“I’d like to thank Senator Henry Stern along with Senators Hertzberg, Min and Rubio and the entire California State Senate for their leadership in supporting the creation of the EV Authority. We are eager to continue the important discussion on how California can lead the zero-emissions transportation future as SB 551 moves to the State Assembly.”

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CA State Budget Support for Zero-Emission Vehicles and Infrastructure

The Honorable Gavin Newsom, Governor
State of California
State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814

The Honorable Toni Atkins, President Pro Tempore
California State Senate
State Capitol, Room 205
Sacramento, CA 95814

The Honorable Anthony Rendon, Speaker
California State Assembly
State Capitol, Room 219
Sacramento, CA 95814

The Honorable Nancy Skinner, Chair
Senate Budget Committee
State Capitol, Room 5019
Sacramento, CA 95814

The Honorable Phil Ting, Chair
Assembly Budget Committee
State Capitol, Room 6026
Sacramento, CA 95814

Re: State Budget Support for Zero-Emission Vehicles and Infrastructure

Dear Governor Newsom, President Pro Tempore Atkins, Speaker Rendon, Chair Skinner, and Chair Ting:

We applaud the emphasis that each of your offices has placed on taking concrete steps and making bold investments to address dirty air and climate change. The need for state investment to accelerate zero-emission (ZE) vehicle adoption has never been more urgent, nor has the state ever had the means, as it does today, to enact change. The state surplus presents a once in a lifetime opportunity to lay the strong foundation for an accelerated and equitable transition to a zero-emission freight transportation system.

The entities listed below represent a broad coalition of stakeholders that firmly believe a major investment in zero-emission goods movement vehicles and supporting infrastructure must be made in the 2021-22 budget. We urge you to dedicate an additional $2.25 Billion towards the state’s transition to zero- emissions for drayage trucks and cargo handling equipment. This aligns with Executive Order N-79-20, our urgent need for clean air, the Transportation Electrification Partnership’s target for 40% ZE drayage trucks by 2028, and our ambitious yet achievable shared goals of achieving 100% ZE cargo handling equipment and drayage trucks. State investment, coupled with supporting regulation and policies can ensure establishment of a strong market for ZE freight vehicles. Investments are needed in vehicles, supporting infrastructure, workforce training to operate and maintain zero-emission equipment and infrastructure, and a means to offset the insurance costs for these new vehicles. Specifically, we are asking for the 2021-22

California budget to include:

  • $1 Billion for the California Air Resources Board’s Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project (HVIP), Zero and Near Zero-Emission Freight Facilities (ZANZEFF), and Clean Off-Road Equipment (CORE) programs to fund human operated zero-emission drayage and cargo handling equipment;
  • $1 Billion for the California Energy Commission to fund charging infrastructure that supports EO N-79-20 implementation at California’s container ports;
  • $100 Million for expanding the availability and affordability of zero-emission drayage truck insurance for truck owners/drivers; and
  • $150 Million for workforce training to maintain and operate zero-emission goods movement vehicles and supporting equipment.

In addition to investment in equipment and infrastructure, we believe complementary investment to ensure that the jobs associated with our transition are captured here in California, especially in underserved and frontline communities. Creation of green jobs must be supported by this level of investment; so too should the transition of incumbent workers into the new, greener goods movement system. The existing supply chain workforce is comprised of millions of middle-class Californians. The state must play a stronger role in funding the transition to zero emission heavy duty trucks and equipment and building the supporting infrastructure to build strong local economies while fighting climate change and cutting air pollution.

We share your goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving air quality and public health, and transitioning to zero-emission vehicles and cargo handling equipment. Our commitment to this goal is evident in our collective global leadership to innovate and implement cutting-edge emission reduction practices. To continue this trajectory, it is imperative that the state’s policy leadership be accompanied by major fiscal investments to achieve these goals. We look forward to continuing to work with your offices and stakeholders on additional policy issues accompanying fleet transition; however, we believe the time is now for the State of California to embrace its unique role in making bold “market maker” investments. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to make the essential steps towards stemming climate change with new, clean technologies.

 

Thank you for your consideration,
A3PCON (Asian Pacific Planning and Policy Council) Environmental Justice Committee
Bay Area Council
BYD
California Association of Port Authorities (CAPA)
California Business Alliance for a Clean Economy
Communities for a Better Environment
EarthJustice
East Bay Community Energy
East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice
Environmental Defense Fund (EDF)
Harbor Trucking Association
International Longshore and Warehouse Union – Locals 13, 63 and 94
Long Beach Alliance for Children with Asthma (LBACA)
Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia
Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce
Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn
Los Angeles County Truck and Bus Coalition
Los Angeles IBEW/NECA Labor Management Cooperation Committee (or LMCC)
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti
Los Angeles City Councilmember Joe Buscaino
Los Angeles Clean Tech Incubator (LACI)
Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP)
PCS Energy
People’s Collective for Environmental Justice
Port of Hueneme
Port of Oakland
Port of Long Beach
Port of Los Angeles
Port of Richmond
Port of San Francisco
San Pedro and Peninsula Homeowners Coalition
Sierra Club
Southern California Edison
Union of Concerned Scientists
Urban Movement Labs
Warehouse Worker Resource Center
XOS Trucks

View The Official Letter Here: 

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.

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:
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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:




grid-logistics-140

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.




pms_new

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.

Pick_My_Solar___Solar_Bids_You_Can_Trust

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.

Zen and the art of e-motorbicycle maintenance: creativity, meditation and innovation

I’d like you to meet the latest addition to the LACI family, Juicer Fine Electric Motorbicycles a talented designer tapping into the growing global electric chopper trend. Certainly all the Silver Lake hipsters hanging at Handsome Coffee Roasters down the road will now have something new to lust after, but beyond it’s obvious Made-in-LA street cred and how incredibly cool we think it is, this is an opportune moment to segue to the topic of creativity and innovation in technology.

36HeroSM-Cropped

The essence of successful entrepreneurship is defined by creativity (and hard work). Coming up with new ways to solve problems is often the initial impulse to found a startup, and then once underway finding creative ways to marshal the required resources and overcome the obstacles encountered at every turn is what differentiates the winners from the unemployed. However, surviving the Valley of Death and then excelling beyond requires more than just solid intellectual horsepower and analytics, it requires true creativity. Which brings us to the $10,000 question: what is creativity and how do we cultivate it, especially under the high stress conditions a startup entails?

Creativity is the production of something new and original. In general, creativity comes through when we’re relaxed, when the active, analytical part of the brain is superficially focused elsewhere, or obscured/numbed/diverted as so often happens with consciousness altering drugs (alcohol, marijuana, etc), during exercise, when driving or listening to music.  But hard as you may try, you can’t think your way into creative inspiration, it just happens in a flash, a torrential downpour of pure original thought, sometimes as a coherent whole and other times as the seed of an idea that must be nurtured and cultivated and perfected. Lest you think it stops there, though, just having a creative idea isn’t enough, it’s a two part process. After the initial burst of inspiration, there is the hard work, the blocking and tackling, the nuts and bolts labor of fleshing out the idea, fully realizing it, improving and perfecting it, and bringing it to fruition (well articulated by Steve Jobs).

However if creativity doesn’t come from the mind, where does it come from? Where is that “other” part of consciousness within which it resides? And how does it get there? The short answer is that it comes from other parts of ourselves, from our subconscious, or depending on your philosophical bent, from other planes of reality – what quantum physics might term, the Unified Field. But regardless of your belief in its origins, one indisputable fact is that training your active mind to relax and get out of the way enables you to access the intuitive, creative part more easily. And meditation is a healthy tool (with lots of other benefits) that can be used to enable high levels of creative flow. David Lynch is a big believer, and Norman Seeff has documented it amongst hundreds of world renowned artists, engineers, businesspeople and others.

What does this mean for you as an entrepreneur? How can you learn these techniques and put them to use in your own life to make your own dent in the universe? Well, let me tell you. LACI is launching a new program called Zen Bootcamp: Meditation for Entrepreneurs. Is it just about Zen? No. It’s a survey of a wide variety of different meditation techniques, their physiological impacts (think brain wave patterns) and an overview of some of the most powerful creative processes out there to help you get your bearings and navigate the landscape. What will it do for you? Hopefully make you the next Apple, but if not, at least catapult you forward Chuck Norris style into the sustainability beyond and help you conquer our planet’s most challenging and vexing problems.

We’re certain this is a global first for incubator programs, and think it’s apropros that LA is where it’s all beginning. So watch for the details on our website soon, till then, order your own Juicer motorbicycle (or come see it at LACI) and make all the snarky coffee chugging plaid shirt wearing mustachioed hipsters falter in their relaxed cool affectation as they furiously fume with jealously while you’re whistling by on battery power…

– Ian

LACI welcomes Ecoponex, Isidore, Revoterial, and Sun-Engine to the family

Please welcome four exciting additions to the LACI family: Ecoponex, Isidore, Revoterial, and Sun-Engine.

Reviewing and vetting the folks that apply to LACI is a labor of love, and we see a lot of great people, ideas and companies. Only the best get in. Please join us in welcoming four of the newest companies in the LACI portfolio.
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Ecoponex Systems International

World-class, closed-loop system to produce healthy food, pure water, and renewable energy at 50x the per acre output of land today.

Benjamin Brant invites us to imagine an urban farm… a “living machine” that converts solar energy and natural ingredients into food. It creates fresh, pure water (even from wastewater) as an afterthought. And its done in a system that actually produces more energy than it needs. Now, imagine it in the middle of LA, as a vertical farm that diverts waste, delivers healthy / organic food, and creates good jobs and a learning environment for the community. Oh, and it can be more profitable than most commercial buildings.

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Isidore Electronics Recycling

Woman-owned, triple bottom line social enterprise that combines best practices in e-waste management with training and jobs for previously incarcerated Angelenos who face barriers to employment.

Kabira Stokes isn’t in the commodity business… she’s using it as a metaphor for social and environmental transformation. By re-imagining what “recycling” means, Isidore combines what we all know we should do (re- and up-cycle yesterday’s electronics), with what we all deep down want to do (help people that deserve a second chance). Hardworking people coming out of our prison systems get good jobs with a purpose at Isidore, taking the 75% of electronics that end up in the dump and transforming them back into useful stuff in Los Angeles. What’s not to like?

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Revoterial

Materials that are 100% natural and renewable, incredibly durable, and designed to simplify and clean up the highly toxic fashion industry efficiently and cost effectively.

Yotam Solomon is good at breaking boundaries. As a highly-accomplished fashion designer, he quickly disarms the most skeptical technologists with his knowledge of material science and the nuts and bolts of how the fashion industry works. Good thing too, as he’s bringing to market materials that are tested and safe enough to put into our bodies through surgery, yet promise to deliver clothing and accessories that are 100% natural and recyclable, more durable, cheaper and simpler than anything available today.

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Sun-Engine

Combines breakthrough heat engine with industry-leading solar thermal technology to produce clean electrical energy 24/7, generating 5 to 10 times more kWh per square foot than conventional PV systems.

Tim Biehler and Benjamin Brant (yes, of Ecoponex as well) have learned a few things over their decades of experience in renewable energy, like how to integrate best-of-breed systems. Today, everybody understands solar, as well as its limitations (like, complete reliance on that largest of bodies, the Sun). Well, cloudy days may well be behind us, as these fine folks have figured out how to combine patented systems to deliver 100% renewable energy 24 hours a day, at a greatly reduced cost to today’s solar arrays.


About LACI

The Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) is a private nonprofit founded by the City of Los Angeles to accelerate the commercialization of clean technologies in the Los Angeles region. Located in the center of the City’s Cleantech Corridor, LACI offers flexible office space, CEO coaching and mentoring, and access to a robust network of experts and capital. Incubated companies operate in a range of sectors including infrastructure, energy efficiency, energy storage, transportation, water, agriculture, and materials science. LACI works closely with the region’s universities, business community, government institutions, capital markets and utilities to foster innovation and to grow the region’s green economy.

Once the permanent La Kretz Innovation Campus opens in 2015, LACI is expected to sustainably accelerate the growth of dozens more promising companies and entrepreneurs in world-class facilities that include wet labs, dry labs, prototype manufacturing space, conference space, and strategically aligned partners all in one convenient location.  It is anticipated that, over its first five years, LACI can help create over 1,600 direct and indirect jobs.

Slash your utility bill with Chai Energy’s new “Summer Saver” iPhone app

LACI Portfolio Company Chai Energy launched a free new iPhone app – Summer Saver – that helps you easily cut your utility bill.

Chai Energy Summer Saver app

Chai smartly tied the app to So Cal Edison’s “Save Power Days” which encourages customers to use less electricity when there’s high demand on the grid.  With Chai’s Summer Saver app, you earn credits directly on your utility bill, saving up to $20 in a single day.

With reminders, predictions and savings tracking, what’s not to like?  If you’re a So Cal Edison customer, try it out today for free.