New LACI Fund to Provide an Affordable Alternative to Venture Capital For Startups; By Not Requiring Personal Collateral or Credit Scores, LACI Aims to Help Underrepresented Founders in Particular Overcome Historical, Institutional Barriers to Access to Capital
The Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) announced the launch of their nationwide LACI Cleantech Debt Fund, a first-of-its-kind green loan program to scale early stage cleantech startups and accelerate equitable climate action.
The $6 million fund will provide loans of $25,000 to $250,000 to an estimated 100 early-stage startups over five years, providing a non-dilutive alternative to venture capital for companies that need financing to support their first customer orders or working capital to scale their businesses. LACI endeavors to help underrepresented founders–in particular female, Black, and Brown founders–overcome some of the institutional and historical barriers they face in accessing capital to grow their business. Unlike most traditional bank loans, the LACI Cleantech Debt Fund will not require founders’ personal collateral or their personal credit scores in underwriting.
LACI created the Cleantech Debt Fund in partnership with anchor investors Sobrato Philanthropies and Homecoming Capital, who are aligned in their missions to support more entrepreneurial innovation to address climate challenges. Additionally, the Wells Fargo Foundation is providing a grant to cover initial operating costs and loan loss reserves.
“To help cleantech startups move at the speed and scale needed to meet the climate crisis, we created the LACI Cleantech Debt Fund as a new tool to give early stage cleantech founders a timely, affordable alternative to expensive venture capital and slow moving bank debt,” said LACI CEO Matt Petersen. “The LACI Cleantech Debt Fund will also help reduce barriers to capital for underserved founders from historically underrepresented communities–too many founders cannot access traditional bank financing as they lack adequate personal assets, or the personal networks needed to secure early stage investment.”
“We need lots of approaches to innovation to address our current climate challenges, and we’re excited to partner with LACI to fill a capital gap that will enable more companies, from more regions and founder backgrounds, to access investment for their growing businesses.” said Victoria Fram of Sobrato Philanthropies and Pat Arnold of Homecoming Capital. “LACI along with Greentown Labs, Evergreen Climate Innovations, and New Energy Nexus are well-positioned to source a diversified pipeline of entrepreneurial solutions, and we’re glad to partner with them as co-investors.”
“To scale a company like ours and keep creating jobs, you need funding that isn’t easily acquired by minority owned businesses,” said Josh Aviv, CEO and Co-Founder of SparkCharge, a portfolio company of both LACI and Greentown Labs, which received an initial loan from the LACI pilot debt fund. “LACI’s Cleantech Debt Fund helps level the playing field, reducing the financial risks and truly enabling businesses to thrive. They are incredible partners who understand the challenges startups face.”
“We are excited to have the Wells Fargo grant play a catalytic role in attracting other sources of capital to the new LACI Cleantech Debt Fund,” said Ramsay Huntley, Climate and Innovation Strategy Lead at Wells Fargo. “So many businesses will benefit from LACI’s commitment to climate equity and their ability to identify companies ready for greater investment. This fund represents a shared belief that entrepreneurs motivated by climate action have the power to make an impact even early in their business journey.”
“The scaled-up LACI Cleantech Debt Fund is paramount to giving our founders choices across the full capital stack, with debt on the one hand via this innovative fund and equity via the LACI Impact Fund on the other,” said LACI SVP Alex Mitchell.
LACI is also partnering with a limited network of leading incubation organizations whose portfolio companies will be eligible to qualify for loans from the Cleantech Debt Fund, including Greentown Labs (Boston, MA & Houston, TX), Evergreen Climate Innovations (Chicago, IL), and New Energy Nexus (Oakland, CA & New York, NY). LACI selected Impact investment firm Mission Driven Finance of San Diego, California to assist with loan origination and servicing, as well as supporting underwriting. Mastercard’s Racial Justice Pro Bono Program–which is a part of Mastercard’s In Solidarity initiative to drive racial equity and create equal opportunities for all–consulted on the Fund model.
After LACI conducted US DOE-funded research validating the need for early stage lending for cleantech startups, the organization piloted the debt fund concept–capitalized by a Wells Fargo Foundation grant–by underwriting loans totalling more than $300,000 to nine startups. The pilot debt fund has had zero defaults and no late payments, and included loans to SparkCharge, Envoy, and others (see below for examples). LACI first shared their DOE-funded research and commitment to creating a national cleantech debt fund at the Clinton Foundation economic conference in November 2019.
The LACI Cleantech Debt Fund joins the LACI Impact Fund I and non-dilutive pilot funds as capital for which LACI incubated startups are eligible to apply. After nine quarters of investing, the $5 million LACI Impact Fund I is nearly 100% deployed and has made equity investments in 15 LACI startups. The LACI Impact Fund empowers LACI founders to grow their early-stage cleantech companies, including ChargerHelp! CEO Kameale Terry which has gone on to build a nationwide network responsible for maintaining 30,000 EV charging stations while ensuring their technicians earn a minimum of $30 per hour with a guaranteed 40-hour work week. LACI is now out to market in raising LACI Impact Fund II.
Sample LACI Pilot Cleantech Debt Fund Recipients
Initial LACI’s pilot debt fund loans to startups include:
SparkCharge: SparkCharge received a $40,000 low-interest loan for their on-demand mobile electric vehicle charging solutions. The company leveraged the funds to help scale operations, hire 40 employees, including a graduate of LACI’s Green Jobs Workforce Training Program, and develop the Roadie Portable EV Charging System. The loan from LACI’s Debt Fund also enabled SparkCharge to raise nearly $24 million in additional capital through equity and debt funding. On March 1, 2022, after the recent launch of SparkCharge’s Currently app, Kia America and Currently announced a partnership that provides EV owners with on-demand concierge service, allowing them to charge their EVs when and where they want.
Envoy: Envoy, a provider of shared, on-demand, community-based EV’s, also leveraged the LACI Debt Fund to grow their business. LACI selected Envoy to operate a pilot community car-share program for residents of the Housing Authority of City of Los Angeles’ (HACLA) Rancho San Pedro public housing complex. The program not only delivered the benefits of electric vehicles and mobility to this historically underserved community, LACI used the pilot as a model for the EVs For All Act introduced by Congresswoman Nanette Díaz Barragán (CA-44). Barragán worked closely with LACI to develop the Act. If passed, the bill will establish a $50 million annual grant program at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to support EV car sharing and charging stations, community education and outreach, and other services for public housing residents to increase access to mobility solutions in transportation deserts.
The Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) is creating an inclusive green economy by unlocking innovation through helping scale cleantech startups, transforming markets through catalytic partnerships like the Transportation Electrification Partnership, and enhancing communities through green workforce training and pilots. Founded as an economic development initiative by the City of Los Angeles and its Department of Water & Power (LADWP) in 2011, LACI is recognized as one of the top 10 innovative business incubators in the world by UBI. To date, LACI has supported 315 startup companies that have secured more than $695 million in funding, generated more than $308 million in revenue, and helped to create an estimated 2,480 jobs with a long-term projected economic impact of more than $555 million.
About Sobrato Philanthropies
Sobrato Philanthropies’ investment in LACI’s Cleantech Debt Fund was committed by John A. Sobrato. Sobrato Philanthropies’ mission is to partner with communities to meet immediate needs, address systemic barriers, and pursue social justice to build a more equitable and sustainable world. Guided by the business philosophy and personal values of the Sobrato family, three generations engage in grantmaking, advocacy, impact investing, and collaborative efforts to create impact locally and around the world.
About Homecoming Capital
Homecoming Capital is a climate-focused investment firm that invests in businesses that decarbonize the economy as they grow. Homecoming’s investments span North America and Europe and support businesses driving decarbonization of the energy, transportation, industrial, and agricultural sectors. For more information, please visit www.homecomingcapital.com.
Partner with LACI to provide disadvantaged communities in LA County access to innovative transportation electrification and clean energy solutions.
LOS ANGELES, CA – “On behalf of the Transportation Electrification Partnership (TEP), I applaud and thank Governor Newsom for including $6.1 billion for zero-emission vehicles and infrastructure investments in his budget proposal, with a focus on providing greater access to and benefits from the transition to zero-emission vehicles to low-income communities that are disproportionately burdened by pollution. These investments are critical to achieving TEP’s bold 2028 targets for the LA region, and statewide goals for 2035 and beyond.
We are pleased to see proposed funding for zero-emission vehicle purchases by low-income consumers, expansion of charging infrastructure in low-income neighborhoods, zero-emission mobility community pilots, electric transit and school bus purchases, zero-emission heavy-duty trucks and infrastructure, port electrification, as well as funding for active transportation projects such as bicycle and pedestrian safety programs, among others.
As the budget process progresses, LACI and TEP look forward to working with the Newsom Administration and Legislature to support these proposed investments and to develop a pathway to increase the funding for accelerating the electrification of California’s goods movement sector.
Thanks to Governor Newsom’s leadership, California will fund investments to purchase 1,000 zero emission trucks along with supporting infrastructure. However, in order to transition the tens of thousands of diesel trucks serving California’s ports, we encourage the Governor and Legislature to dedicate a total of $3.35 billion in the 2022 budget towards the state’s transition to zero-emission drayage trucks and charging infrastructure, including $100 million zero-emission early action pilot projects in key transportation freight corridors like the I-710 freeway.
We believe the time is now for the State of California to fully embrace its unique role in making bold “market maker” investments that will create good jobs, advance equity, and result in deep reductions in air and climate pollution. We look forward to working with the Administration and Legislature to further develop the state budget to achieve these goals.
President & CEO, Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator
Chair, Transportation Electrification Partnership
The Transportation Electrification Partnership (TEP) is an unprecedented regional public-private collaboration to accelerate deep reductions in climate and air pollution by the time of the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games by pursuing bold targets, pilots, initiatives, and policies that are equity-driven, create quality jobs, and grow the economy.
Current members include:
Leadership Group: Mayor Garcetti, CARB, County of Los Angeles, LADWP, LA Metro, Southern California Edison, LACI
Advisory Group: Audi of America, BMW Group, Nissan North America, PCS Energy, BYD Motors, Normal Now sponsored by Electrify America, Greenlots, Itron, Proterra, AMPLY Power, Burbank Water & Power, Clean Power Alliance, Culver City, East Bay Community Energy, Glendale Water & Power, Inglewood, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 11 / National Electrical Contractors Association Los Angeles County, Metrolink, Pasadena Water & Power, Santa Monica, Southern California Public Power Authority, Tesla, Waymo
Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) is creating an inclusive green economy for the people of Los Angeles by: unlocking innovation by 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 Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (LADWP), LACI is recognized as one of the most innovative business incubators in the world by UBI. As of Q2, 2021, LACI has helped 281 portfolio companies raise $636 million in funding and create over 2,300 jobs in the Los Angeles region, with a projected 5-year economic impact on the Los Angeles region of more than $520 million. Learn more at laci.org
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.
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.”
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
California Association of Port Authorities (CAPA)
California Business Alliance for a Clean Economy
Communities for a Better Environment
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)
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
Southern California Edison
Union of Concerned Scientists
Urban Movement Labs
Warehouse Worker Resource Center
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 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.
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.
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.
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…