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LACI Welcomes 10 Promising Cleantech Startups for its Fall 2021 Incubation Cohort

Today, 10 clean energy, cleantech and sustainability startups joined the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator’s (LACI) Fall 2021 cohort of its flagship Incubation program, which helps founders scale their company and impact in Greater Los Angeles and beyond. 

From helping prevent wildfires by collecting data over utility poles in remote locations (Delphire Inc.), to diverting post-industrial, non-recyclable materials from landfills and upcycling them to create beautiful, zero-waste fashion products (Rewilder), these startups and their founders are showing up with innovation, grit, and inspiring leadership to enhance LACI’s commitment to building an inclusive green economy.

“Given the growing climate crisis – including extreme heat, drought, and fires – in California, we must accelerate an equitable transition to clean energy, zero emissions mobility, and a circular economy in Los Angeles and beyond,” said Matt Petersen, President and CEO at LACI. “That’s why we are so excited to welcome 10 new startups to LACI’s incubation program and we look forward to helping our newest cohort of founders to scale their solutions for an inclusive green economy.”

As highlighted in an October 10th Yahoo! Finance story, LACI is leading efforts to create an inclusive green economy in Los Angeles. With a focus on supporting underrepresented founders, LACI’s Fall 2021 incubation cohort includes 30 percent female founders, 60 percent underrepresented founders, and 10 percent LGBTQ+ founders. In line with LACI’s specific technical priorities for the year, 70 percent of our new startups are focused on Clean Energy, 20 percent on Circular Economy, and 10 percent on Zero Emissions Mobility.

 The companies joining the Incubation program this year are also showing great adaptability and are stepping up to the new challenges we now face. SolarFi, for instance, provides solar-powered, weather-resistant temporary private spaces, or “pods,” which have become popular among restaurants, hotels, events, and municipalities to facilitate social distancing. Led by Antonio Dixon, who is a member of the Forbes Next 1000 class of 2021, SolarFi is now exploring more opportunities to bring clean energy to urban areas.

During LACI’s two-year Incubation program, startups engage in an intensive six-month curriculum to prepare founders and teams for successful market penetration, team development, increased impact with respect to the environment and communities, financial stability with a strategy for growth, access to LACI internal funds and a strategy to access external capital. Additionally, each startup team is matched with an Executive-in-Residence (EIR) who provides support in setting a roadmap and partners with the company to track, measure, and execute on key milestones. Startups in the Fall 2021 cohort will build a network with their fellow cohort members and with the greater LACI community to enable a collaborative and supportive environment for achieving growth and contributing to the global transition to zero carbon. 

LACI’s community includes a strong network of cleantech companies that completed the Incubation program and are continuing to grow and which have collectively raised $636M. Of the Incubation startups from LACI’s rebooted cohort model, EV charging station services provider ChargerHelp! currently employs 32 people and services 20,000 charging stations across 11 states. EV charging as a service provider SparkCharge recently raised $1 million from SharkTank’s Mark Cuban. Maxwell Vehicles is working with a group of partners and startups to deploy the nation’s first-ever Zero Emission Delivery Zone with a goal of lowering emissions and decreasing traffic.

We’re thrilled to support these 10 innovative startups for the next two years:

  • Delphire: Delphire is dedicated to preventing and containing wildfires by providing actionable real-time information from remote and dangerous locations. Their sentinel system monitors power lines for maintenance issues with the goal of preventing wildfires.
  • Energos: Energos develops an end-to-end platform based on the Internet of Things (IoT) and edge AI analytics to automate the energy flow between distributed energy loads and distributed energy resources.
  • Evolectric: Evolectric’s offerings encompass vehicle and battery solutions that advance e-mobility through rapid prototyping, electrified mobility solutions, battery technologies  and standardized products.
  • Flick: Flick provides rate education signals to help reduce energy use and carbon-intensive on-peak usage during costly times of the day.
  • Humble: Humble makes and rents user-friendly electric carts, specifically designed for entertainment production sets, that can carry heavy equipment while providing clean energy unlike the usual dirty and loud diesel-fueled vehicles.
  • Joule: Joule is engaged in the creation of a new energy paradigm to create inexpensive energy while cleaning and aerating our oceans, and other suitable bodies of water by mimicking a process already occurring in nature.
  • Meterleader: MeterLeader makes saving energy in homes and buildings fun, easy, collaborative, and measurable through the development of energy-saving challenges using real-time energy data from PG&E, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric. Meterleader successfully completed LACI’s Innovators program for early-stage startups.
  • Olokun Minerals: Olokun Minerals aims to solve global clean water security by sustainably harvesting ocean minerals from desalination brine to create a renewable source of power and provide key compounds for the supply chains of the future.
  • Rewilder: Rewilder targets manufacturing industrial processes to divert ‘waste’ materials from landfill, and transform them into usable materials for consumer goods. Rewilder successfully completed LACI’s Innovators program for early-stage startups.
  • SolarFi: SolarFi promotes sustainable living by combining nature and technology to bring customers solar-powered, fully transparent enclosures equipped with all the essentials, including climate-controlled heating and cooling, charging stations, and free public WiFi. 

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TEP Partner Spotlight: SCE (Southern California Edison)

Taking bold steps to prioritize electrification for the future of its communities

Covering approximately 50,000 square miles in Southern California and providing more than 15 million people with electricity, Southern California Edison (SCE) is one of the largest regional organizations in the Transportation Electrification Partnership (TEP) and one of the founding partners that helped create the Partnership in 2018. “When we started TEP, we knew that the electric industry had to keep pushing for more renewables and bold action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But we also knew that to address climate change we had to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from other parts of the economy, especially the transportation sector – which in California accounts for almost 50% of greenhouse gas emissions,” said Drew Murphy, senior vice president of Strategy and Corporate Development at Edison International, the parent company of SCE.

The California Clean Fuel Reward Program is an endeavor that SCE cites as an important example of their dedication to transportation electrification. This program, which was originated by SCE and then adopted statewide, provides an additional incentive for the purchase of electric vehicles across the state at the point of sale. “Having the ability to remove some of the cost pressure of EVs at the point of sale is an important incentive for customers, so we’re proud to join the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the other utilities participating in the program,” said Michael Backstrom, vice president of Regulatory Policy for SCE. The company has also recently introduced a rebate program for those who buy and lease pre-owned EVs.

The Charge Ready Program is another example of the bold action SCE has taken to encourage transportation electrification in the region. As the largest utility-run electric passenger vehicle charging infrastructure program in the nation, Charge Ready will add about 38,000 new electric car chargers throughout SCE’s service area over the next few years. Through Charge Ready, SCE installs and maintains the supporting EV charging infrastructure while site hosts, who are nonresidential SCE customers, own, operate and maintain qualified charging stations. Charge Ready also includes options for SCE to own, operate and maintain charging stations for specific segments, as well as provides rebates for charging stations installed during the construction of new multi-family property sites.

Beyond passenger vehicles, SCE is also taking ambitious steps in goods movement. The Charge Ready Transport program will support EV charging for at least 8,490 industrial EVs across the company’s service area. For example, the program will play a vital role in supporting EV charging for 100 electric trucks via the CARB- and California Energy Commission-funded Joint Electric Truck Scaling Initiative. The pilot will eliminate 8,200 metric tons of harmful emissions annually through a collaboration with transportation and logistics companies NFI Industries Inc. and Schneider National, Inc. These companies recently announced that they will each put 50 heavy-duty, plug-in, battery-electric trucks into operation at their Los Angeles area locations.

In addition to programs designed to help others reach transportation electrification goals, SCE has made strides in leading by example. By 2030, every passenger car and small-to-midsize SUV in SCE’s fleet will be electric, the company announced. The electric company will also convert 30% of its medium-duty vehicles and pickup trucks, 8% of heavy-duty trucks and 60% of forklifts to electric power by that same year. “As we encourage our customers to consider fleet electrification, it is critical for our company and our industry to show leadership,” said Backstrom. “Setting goals to electrify our own fleet is one more way to show that we remain committed to making the changes necessary to clean our air and reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions.”

As we advance the goals we set in our Zero Emission Roadmap 2.0, TEP is determined to create an equitable and sustainable transportation ecosystem in time for the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Los Angeles. “We want to show everyone that electrification of mobility at scale is not only doable, but doable in a way that makes things better,” Murphy added. “Being part of the TEP Leadership Group is important to us because it helps advance what the region and the state must do to be successful in reaching California’s climate action goals. As a partnership, we can leverage our thinking throughout California, nationally, and internationally, to make a difference and start accelerating innovation across the industry and region.”

– Shevonne Sua, LACI Transportation Program Assistant

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. All of our partners have committed to work individually and collectively to pursue policies, pilot projects, and other actions that are equity-driven, create quality jobs, grow the economy, and help the region reach the bold targets in the TEP’s Zero Emissions 2028 Roadmap 2.0.

From policy to action: EV car share success in two Los Angeles under-resourced communities

Pilot frameworks for sustainable EV car sharing solutions in disadvantaged communities

Summary
The Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI), Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA), Pacoima Beautiful, and Envoy Technologies Inc. (“Envoy”) recently completed two pilots of electric vehicle (EV) car share services in Pacoima and San Pedro. The lessons we learned from these EV car share pilots can be used to design future community EV car sharing investments that increase transportation options, reduce local air pollution, provide alternatives to internal combustion engine vehicles, and improve access to jobs and services in frontline communities.

Background
Following the policy momentum of S.B. 1275 (De Leon) and subsequent funding authorized by the state legislature, LACI launched the Zero Emission Mobility and Community pilot program in 2019 with funding from the California Workforce Development Board. We kicked off the program with a two-sided Request for Information (RFI) – one for Zero Emission Mobility Technology Providers and one for Disadvantaged Communities, as defined by the State, with identified Transportation needs. Residents, Community Based Organizations (CBOs), City Departments, and Cities applied to host a pilot, with a diverse array of technology partners applying to provide solutions. The breadth and number of applications showed a true need and enthusiasm for innovative zero emission mobility solutions.

The electric vehicle was “comfortable, quiet, easy to handle, and helps the environment.”

– Rancho San Pedro community member

Program design and goals
A rigorous selection process based on criteria such as community partner capacity, available real estate for infrastructure, and robust needs assessment, produced four matches between technologies and communities that were transformed into the Zero Emission Mobility and Community pilots in Long Beach, Pacoima, San Pedro, and Leimert Park.

Two communities, Pacoima and San Pedro, were selected to host EV car shares provided by Envoy, a LACI company, in partnership with Pacoima Beautiful and the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA), respectively. Nissan North America, a TEP founding partner, provided a long range Nissan LEAF SV+ for each pilot. The EV car share pilots focused on providing easily-accessible, healthy, environmentally friendly, safe, reliable, and affordable transportation to accelerate the adoption of light duty electric vehicles while also developing a replicable, sustainable program model that tested for market transformation opportunities.

The pilots launched during the global Coronavirus pandemic, and the EV car share was approved by the City of Los Angeles as an essential service – offering alternatives to mass transit which was perceived as a health risk and became less reliable due to reduced service and shutdowns. Despite launching in the middle of the pandemic, both pilots exhibited unique successes.

“I had no car and worked full time and Envoy was more affordable than ubers/lyfts everyday.”

– Pacoima community member

As a focal point of both pilots, the project team worked collaboratively to test pricing scenarios specific to community needs. Pricing for vehicle use was set by the community partners. A portion of the rates were subsidized by the grant using a “Transportation Wallet” model – direct community incentives aimed at making the program more accessible to low-and-moderate income individuals. The Transportation Wallet was flexibly deployed to cover rate subsidies and promotional campaigns as directed by the pilot partners.

Program revenue garnered during the pilot period was another critical pilot component. Envoy established 50/50 revenue share agreements with community partners based on the full hourly market rate. As long as the Transportation Wallet could support the subsidized rate, Envoy and the community partner earned revenue at the market rate, and shared the benefits from the revenue split. This tested methods to reinvest dollars back into programs post-pilot period.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Compare and contrast
The Pacoima Electro-share pilot launched as a community-facing EV car share with two Nissan Leaf EVs, dedicated EV chargers, and dedicated parking spaces. Uniquely, this pilot tested the use of innovative off grid EV chargers. The EVs were parked a mile from Pacoima City Hall and a short two block walk from the nearest bus stop. Pacoima Beautiful, a local environmental justice organization, led the community outreach, education, and enrollment via flyer door drops, email newsletters, and social media posts. Envoy reinforced these activities through supportive marketing, education, and outreach (ME&O) activities. Due to the pandemic, the partners avoided in person events.

The HACLA Rancho San Pedro Electric Share pilot was specifically for the ~1400 residents of the Rancho San Pedro property. The EVs, also two Nissan Leafs, were parked adjacent to the Resident Advisory Council office with dedicated EV chargers and parking spaces constructed on the property. HACLA’s existing Community Coaches served as the program ambassadors, performing all outreach, education, and enrollment duties which included flyer door drops and phone calls. Envoy also fortified these efforts with dedicated ME&O.

Results
During the 12-month pilot term, we tracked quantitative membership growth and utilization (distance, time) while gathering qualitative data on users’ habits and motivations.

Some learnings of interest included:

    • Powerful leadership by the non-profit partners. Both Pacoima and San Pedro community partner teams took ownership of the pilots, which helped bolster a “train the trainer” approach specific to each community’s needs. This included direct support in native languages of the community.
    • Different usage patterns over the pilot period: Usage was impacted during peak COVID transmission periods. Rancho San Pedro bounced back quickly and hit higher overall membership numbers and utilization rates, but Pacoima’s growth was slower and directly tied to COVID restrictions – when restrictions were lifted, usage went up. This result aligns with the contrast between a public vs private program, where visibility, easy access to the EVs and program point of contact helps overcome barriers to adoption, as well as with Pacoima’s high COVID rates. Generally, the program team observed that vehicles were often used to support essential service activities (such as travel to and from grocery stores and the hospital).
    • Unexpected trip lengths: Members of both programs did not hesitate to take longer trips, despite range anxiety often being cited as another EV adoption barrier, because the new EVs were seen as more reliable than older personally owned vehicles.
    • Key value adds: In addition to the expected EV car share benefits, designated parking was a motivating factor for using the program due to local parking constraints.
    • Pricing impacts: The subsidized rate and price changing during the pilot period were a success. The Pacoima pilot tested price elasticity by raising the hourly rate incrementally by $1/hour at a time, from $2/hour up to $5/hour, over a three-month period. This represented a discount of roughly 50% from the hourly market rate. Despite price changes during this period, utilization did not decrease and membership continued to grow. This demonstrated the need for, and interest in, the EV car share even if the cost was not as deeply discounted, and the willingness by the community members to have some “skin in the game” to pay out of pocket a certain subsidized price. The Rancho San Pedro hourly rate, by contrast, remained constant throughout the pilot period.

“I use [the EV car share] because my personal car is not great for long distances or freeway. I also use it because it is convenient sometimes to not lose my parking spot at [Rancho San Pedro].”

– Rancho San Pedro community member

Post-pilot
In order to continue the EV car shares beyond the 12-month pilot term, the CBOs wanted to see their monthly revenue share exceed operating expenses. This threshold represents the point at which the program would be sustained by its utilization. The EV car share at Rancho San Pedro hit this target, but the EV car share in Pacoima did not.

Nevertheless, both EV car shares are continuing as independent programs post-pilot term. Rancho San Pedro’s operating expenses are fully covered by the monthly revenue share. Pacoima Beautiful will use the accrued pilot term revenue share to pay for the program until an additional grant can be secured. We expect that the Pacoima program will hit the break-even target within the next 6 months as steady growth continues.

Finally, the program operators will need to establish a self-sustaining Transportation Wallet to make sure that these programs can succeed in the years to come. Currently, the Transportation Wallet is filled by grant funding, but since the programs are continuing, the operators can test alternative sources of funding for the Wallet like monthly membership fees, small amenity fees charged to multi-family housing residents, tiered membership pricing based on income level, or even utility credits like those available from the Low Carbon Fuels Standard Program, which may provide additional revenue sources to help bolster program.

The lessons we have learned from the EV car share pilots can be used by community members, local governments, community-based organizations, service providers, and housing operators to inform community EV car shares that benefit the community environmentally and economically by cleaning the air and providing access to jobs. We are also encouraged by the ability of these pilots to have successfully explored potential pathways to market sustainability. We encourage more partners to explore EV car shares as part of their clean transportation and equity efforts.

This is a hidden gem solution for cleaning the air that can reduce the number of personally owned vehicles, reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, decrease the need for parking spaces and can allow for increased green space for community socializing. It has been a successful effort to take policy to action, and provided deeper insight for all stakeholders on the path to expanding market-driven EV sharing ecosystems.

Contact
If you have further questions about the Zero Emission Mobility and Community Pilots in Pacoima and San Pedro please reach out to pilots@laci.org.

TEP Partner Spotlight: Culver City

A small city growing a big plan for zero emission mobility.

Covering roughly five square miles in west Los Angeles County, with a population of nearly 40,000, Culver City was the first small city to join the Transportation Electrification Partnership (TEP) two years ago, with then Mayor Meghan Sahli-Wells stating, “Together, we can lead the way in championing climate action through zero emissions mobility.” Since then, the City has been making steady progress on multiple fronts to support the goals of TEP. 

Culver City has become one of the fastest-growing digital media hubs in Southern California as Amazon, Apple, HBO, TikTok and other firms have expanded into the area, drawn to its location and movie history. The influx has brought thousands of new jobs to the city along with the associated transit challenges. As a small city, Culver City is readily able to address all mobility functions from electric buses to dedicated bus lanes to new first/last mile connections. 

Transforming the City Fleet
“We have adopted a vehicle policy to buy electric as long as it can meet our needs and is sustainable,” says Culver City Chief Transportation Officer Rolando Cruz. “With that in mind, the Transportation Department has committed to being 100 percent electric by 2028 for all of our CityBus and CityRide vehicles, which is in alignment with our TEP goals.” This fiscal year, the City will receive its first four 40-foot battery-electric buses from New Flyer.

But it’s more than the electric buses themselves that cities must take into consideration; transit agencies are learning that planning for the infrastructure to support the buses is critical. “What we are doing differently than others is creating a Battery Electric Bus Transition Plan for our infrastructure that aligns with our transportation vehicle replacements,” says Cruz. This plan includes a service, fleet, fuel, maintenance, and facilities assessment so that the City can fully understand the total cost of ownership. 

In the coming weeks, Culver City will take final recommendations and bring the full plan to the City Council for adoption. Culver City is also making progress in securing funding for its electrification efforts, having recently been awarded a $5 million grant from the California Energy Commission for the buildout of infrastructure enhancements required for full fleet electrification by 2028.

Reimagining Streets
Culver City’s leadership in transportation electrification extends to other innovative programs as well. In particular, MOVE Culver City evaluates streets in conjunction with the community to provide mobility alternatives. More specifically, the program envisions a reimagining of streets as public spaces and prioritizes moving people over cars in the design. As part of the program, the City has partnered with a local company, Sunset Vans, to create the first electric mini-bus in the country.

Beginning August 19, 2021, Culver CityBus is providing safe and reliable transportation to students in the Culver City Unified School District (CCUSD) for free with a special TAP (Transit Access Pass) card, as part of a new pilot program. Culver City students receive unlimited rides at no cost on Culver CityBus, LA Metro bus and rail, and LADOT Dash. “This exciting program is several years in the making. Free bus fares provide increased accessibility to transit for the youth of our community and will create future generations of public transportation users,” said Culver City Mayor Alex Fisch.

Whether they’re setting ambitious fleet electrification goals or creating innovative mobility alternatives, Culver City has been making impressive progress on their transportation goals in conjunction with the greater ecosystem. “Being a part of TEP has helped us look at the big picture and to take aholistic approach to tackling the mobility challenges of the City, including transportation electrification. One thing that we learned early on is that this requires interdepartmental collaboration,” says Cruz. “We have created a mobility working group that includes staff from the  Public Works and Community Development Departments. We are working together to solve mobility challenges and support each others’ efforts to help enhance quality of life within our community. We are working hard on a short-range mobility plan that will outline our plans over the next 2-3 two to three years. But ultimately our group is more able to collaborate and solve these bigger picture problems through our partnership with TEP.”

– Shevonne Sua, LACI Transportation Program Assistant

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. All of our partners have commited to work individually and collectively to pursue  policies, pilots, and other actions that are equity-driven, create quality jobs, grow the economy, and help the region reach the bold targets in the TEP’s Zero Emissions 2028 Roadmap 2.0.

Public-Private Partnership & Environmental Justice Groups Call for Governor & Legislature to Create Authority & Statewide ZEV Leadership to Accelerate Reduction of Harmful Air & Climate Pollution

BILL WOULD HELP CALIFORNIA LEAD THE WAY IN MEETING PRESIDENT BIDEN’S GOAL OF 50% EVS SOLD NATIONWIDE BY 2030

Proposed ZEV “Czar” and ZEV Authority will use whole of government approach to forge accountability & financing tools, ensure California prioritizes investments in underserved communities of color, & create high quality jobs while meeting Governor Newsom’s goal to end the sale of gas-powered vehicles by 2035

LOS ANGELES — Today the Transportation Electrification Partnership (TEP), a public-private partnership led by the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI), were joined by State Senator Henry Stern and environmental justice advocates to call for the approval of legislation to accelerate transportation electrification to dramatically reduce harmful air and climate pollutants, prioritize investments and zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) deployments in communities disproportionately burdened by air pollution, create good paying jobs, and grow the related ZEV innovation manufacturing economy. 

Los Angeles and California are leading the transition to zero-emission vehicles, yet experience the worst air quality in the nation. To meet TEP’s ambitious climate and air pollution targets set for Greater Los Angeles to achieve by the time of the Olympics in 2028 as well as Governor Newsom’s Executive Order to electrify transportation, it was identified that California needs an Authority & leader singularly focused on working across State government to help accelerate progress.

Senate Bill 551, introduced by Senator Stern (D-Los Angeles) at the request of the Transportation Electrification Partnership & LACI, would create the California Zero-Emission Vehicle Authority to hold accountable the dozens of state agencies involved, while working with communities, labor, and the private sector, providing strategic direction, creating new funding and financing tools to support the transition, and ensuring that equity is a top priority in all funding and programs for zero-emission transportation. The Authority would also help bring focus to needed job training and support for manufacturing, while ensuring California leads the way to meet President Biden’s 2030 goal of 50 percent of all cars sold to be electric vehicles.

“Transportation is the greatest source of harmful air and climate pollution in LA and across California, and frontline communities of color suffer a disproportionate impact,” said Matt Petersen, President & CEO of LACI. “We need a senior leader and ZEV Authority laser-focused on working across all state agencies, local communities, labor, and industry to prioritize equity, create new financing tools and high road jobs, unlock startup innovation, & accelerate progress in getting 100% zero-emissions cars, buses and trucks on the road. We thank Senator Stern for his leadership.”

“California must exercise its market-making power as a global electric vehicle goliath in both purchasing and jobs and investment in manufacturing batteries, cars, buses and trucks, and installing fast-charging infrastructure.  The clean vehicle economy and related manufacturing and infrastructure upgrades will not only restore clean air for all, it will be the biggest job creator in California for the coming decade,” said Senator Stern. “The President gets this, and Congress and the private sector are poised to invest big. The question is who will win the global race?”

“Just this week leading world scientists warned us about the need to take immediate action to reduce global warming and climate change impacts,” said Senator Susan Rubio (D-Baldwin Park), co-author of SB 551. “California has already led the way by adopting aggressive goals and timelines. SB 551 is another important step. It directs the state to work more efficiently by creating a platform that will encourage collaboration and more strategic planning across our state to help expedite much needed transportation infrastructure and strengthen the workforce.”

“Communities like mine in Watts suffer disproportionate and unfair impacts from California’s addiction to gas-powered cars, buses and trucks, which makes the passage of SB551 an environmental justice issue,” said Watts Clean Air & Energy Committee co-chair Jacquelyn Badejo. “All of California’s children deserve to live in healthy communities and to have a spot in the jobs of the future. A Zero-Emissions Vehicle Authority makes it clear that leadership at the highest levels of government are planning for a better future that is committed to equitable outcomes.”

“California needs clean air and good jobs,” said Vanessa Morelan, Western States Program Manager, EVNoire. “We can address both of these challenges by passing SB 551, which creates senior-level leadership to make sure that our transition to zero-emissions occurs with a comprehensive focus on spurring our local cleantech industry; provides jobs for low-income and underserved Californians; and, prepares the state for the climate challenges that lie ahead. Senate Bill 551 specifically calls for prioritizing equity in all funding and programs, economic development and enhanced workforce training, which is a pinnacle of the EVNoire vision and why we fully support this mission.”

More than 100 organizations have endorsed the bill, including local government, industry leaders, startups, environmental organizations, environmental justice groups, public health advocates, labor organizations, and academia. The bill has earned bipartisan support throughout its legislative journey to date, but it has yet to be voted upon by the full Assembly. The bill will be up for consideration by the Assembly Appropriations Committee when the Legislature reconvenes mid-month.

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Approved Statements

Mayor Eric Garcetti, City of Los Angeles

“Zero-emissions transportation isn’t just one of our greatest opportunities to turn the tide on the climate crisis — it’s a chance to jumpstart our economy, create good-paying jobs, and reverse inequities that have harmed our communities for generations. SB551 will ensure that the transition to zero-emissions transportation is a force for good in people’s lives, and give us the tools to continue to accelerate our path toward a more sustainable and just future.” 

City of Los Angeles – Councilmember Kevin De León, Council District 14

“My district is crisscrossed with freeways that are choking the air from our children’s lungs. California needs to be doing more to clean our air which is why I strongly support SB 551 by Senator Henry Stern to ensure the State accelerates efforts in eliminating tailpipe emissions, getting zero-emission trucks hauling in and out of the Port of LA, and making electric vehicles accessible to everyone.”

Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn

“California is known for its car culture and for leading the world with aggressive climate policies. With SB 551, we have a chance to be known for truly implementing a climate-friendly zero-emission transportation future. The communities that I represent near the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach need California to create a future that includes a focus on electrifying the freight industry. Making a clean future an executive priority is exactly the kind of bold action we need.”

Los Angeles County Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell

“Our children deserve to breathe clean, healthy air and SB551 is a commitment to making that future a reality. It is abundantly clear that we have no time to waste in reducing our carbon emissions and greening our transportation sector. By passing SB551, our state leaders will make it clear they understand the urgency of now and that they are ready to lead with action and equity.”

Senate Majority Leader Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys), SB 551 Joint Author

“California may have 50% of the nation’s zero-emissions vehicles on our roads, but the air quality in our communities makes it clear that we need to get every gas-powered car, bus and truck off the road now. California can create the nation’s first Zero-Emissions Vehicle Authority to lead the nation in building the infrastructure, jobs and innovation needed so that our families can breathe cleaner air.” 

Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D-Woodland Hills), SB 551 Co-author

“California has a bold vision for a zero-emissions future, and SB551 has the teeth needed to make it a reality. By establishing a senior leadership position, the creation of a Zero-Emissions Vehicle Authority gives Californians someone to hold accountable for making clean air a reality.”

Veronica Padilla, Executive Director, Pacoima Beautiful

“We know that communities like the ones I represent in northeast San Fernando Valley are hit first and worst by the impacts of climate change and pollution. That is why we are proud to stand with a coalition of clean tech, environmental justice and community leaders to say that it is time for bold leadership at the highest levels of government to make a transition to a zero-emissions future possible. By passing SB551, California will make it clear that it is ready to tackle head-on the looming challenges of climate change with a focus and investment in communities that need it the most.”

Bahram Fazeli, Director of Research & Policy, Communities for a Better Environment

“For communities who have long suffered disproportionately from the impacts of pollution from the freight industry and from being adjacent to freeways, we need a whole of government approach to accelerate the transition to zero-emission vehicles. Making that transition will require focused leadership and collaboration from our state officials and agencies. We stand behind SB551 because we know that environmental justice and equity in the green future requires an all-hands-on-deck approach that makes sure no community is left behind.”

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 offers cleantech founders access to the right capital to scale their startups, to help drive 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. 
  • Risky and expensive alternatives. No early-stage startup can accurately forecast all expenses. As a result, many founders incur credit card debt when unexpected business opportunities arise, or they 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, even though Black and Latino/Hispanic populations account for roughly 31% of the overall 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 when and how much equity to take on, and 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 of lending to Black and Latino/Hispanic founders, they often fare better than their VC counterparts.

To address this problem, LACI was awarded 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 the Clinton Foundation economic conference in November of 2019, with private-sector lenders and public-sector officials validating the model of creating 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 a path to cost effectively serve the market, other than connecting founders with 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 announce 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 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 regularly supporting more LACI founders with additional loans.

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

State Budget Brings $10 Million to LACI to Support Clean Mobility, Cleantech Workforce Development, BIPOC and Women Entrepreneurs

California Senator Maria Elena Durazo and Assemblymember Miguel Santiago secured the funding for LACI and announced the investments which will benefit communities across LA County

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) announced today that $10 million has been allocated in the state budget to advance innovative zero emission transportation initiatives, clean-energy pilot programs, workforce development, and assistance for underserved communities and entrepreneurs in Los Angeles County.

California Senator Maria Elena Durazo and Assemblymember Miguel Santiago joined LACI CEO Matt Petersen to announce the new funding at a July 23 press conference at the La Kretz Innovation Campus. The funding, which was finalized when Governor Gavin Newsom signed the budget on July 12, was sponsored by LACI and championed by Durazo and Santiago.

“The future is green and the investments we make now to propel Los Angeles’ cleantech industry will pay dividends in clear air and good-paying jobs that will lift underserved communities out of poverty and make our neighborhoods healthier,” said Durazo. “As we move toward a post-pandemic recovery, we need to build a strong and resilient future that gives everyone the healthy and economically vibrant communities they want and deserve.”

The funding will support local investments in electric-vehicle and clean- energy pilot projects, green workforce training for residents in underserved communities and support for underrepresented cleantech startup founders.

“Our communities deserve to breathe clean air, work good paying jobs, and thrive in tomorrow’s economy,” said Santiago. “It took a pandemic for my neighbors to breathe clean air. $10 million represents an investment in our children’s future, in our communities’ prosperity, and in the health of our neighbors and friends. I’m so proud to have the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator in my district, as they are making leaps and bounds to ensure our communities are included in the green economy and that we move away from fossil fuels.”

A LACI report released in January projected that more than 600,000 jobs could be created in Los Angeles County in the clean energy, transportation electrification, and other cleantech sectors.

“Los Angeles is increasingly becoming the epicenter of the nation’s green transition, and the state’s investment in a more sustainable and equitable future gives us the boost to ensure that the full potential of the sector’s environmental and economic benefits happen here in LA for the communities that need it the most,” Petersen said.

The state budget allocations for Los Angeles include:

  • Clean energy and transportation pilot expansion in underserved and disproportionately burdened communities: This new state funding will leverage existing resources to reduce air pollution and enhance communities by deploying emerging innovations for mobility, goods movement, and clean energy. The funds will also support smaller technology pilots for LACI startups.
  • Green economic recovery through job training: Funding will also target green job training focused on underserved communities by providing classroom education, hands-on training in the field, and paid internships performing EV charging maintenance, electric vehicle repair, and software development.
  • Support for BIPOC and women-owned startups: Funds will also support underrepresented founders and their emerging startups which are focused on advancing and bringing to market solutions for zero-emissions transportation, clean energy, and the circular economy.

 ABOUT LACI

LACI 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. Learn more at laci.org 

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National Coalition Led by Transportation Electrification Partnership and LACI Launches Digital Campaign Urging Congress to Fund Electric Vehicle Incentives and Charging Infrastructure

Federal investments in zero emissions mobility and goods movement will reduce disproportionately higher rates of respiratory diseases caused by air pollution in disadvantaged communities of color

LOS ANGELES, CA – Today a national coalition of over 100 companies, organizations, and local governments in 18 states launched a new digital campaign to urge Congress to support President Joe Biden’s proposed funding for electric vehicle incentives and investments in charging infrastructure. The coalition was created by the Transportation Electrification Partnership (TEP), a growing coalition of cleantech companies and organizations representing business, labor and startup innovation, led by the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI).

As Congress debates a path forward on infrastructure legislation, the digital campaign aims to keep a spotlight on the critical need to invest in zero emission transportation at levels that address long-standing environmental justice issues. Air pollution caused by gas-powered cars and trucks disproportionately affects communities of color, which suffer from increased rates of childhood asthma, lung disease, and heart disease.  

In a series of digital video and stationary ads titled “The Same Air,” TEP makes a direct case for Congress to make the necessary investments to address the plight of frontline communities that are choked by air pollution caused by the movement of goods and people. 

In his American Jobs Plan, President Biden proposed $174 billion in funding for EVs and EV charging. In April 2020, the Transportation Electrification Partnership began calling for a $150 billion federal stimulus proposal to support zero emissions vehicle manufacturing and innovation, infrastructure deployment, public and active transit, job training, high-quality workforce standards, and support for related startups and small business, prioritizing those started by underrepresented founders. In March 2021, over 100 companies, business organizations, and others sent a letter in support of this proposal to Congressional leaders.

TEP’s EV stimulus plan mirrors President Biden’s call in his American Jobs Plan plan to electrify transportation, while creating jobs and fighting the climate crisis, including: 

  • EV incentives for cars and trucks, and support for manufacturing
  • Charging stations and utility upgrades
  • Zero emissions transit and safe streets for walking and biking
  • Workforce development and job training
  • Innovation from startups and support for underrepresented founders 

TEP estimated its proposal could create up to 2.3 million jobs across the country, according to research from economic advisory firm HR&A. The analysis estimates that the proposed $150 billion in stimulus investment would boost employment in all sectors, with 1.4 million jobs expected to build out our nation’s zero emissions transportation infrastructure alone.

Click here to view TEP’s 30-second digital ad “Same Air”. 

About TEP

The Transportation Electrification Partnership 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. TEP is chaired by LACI CEO Matt Petersen.

The TEP Leadership Group includes Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti, Southern California Edison, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, County of Los Angeles, California Air Resources Board, LA Metro; the TEP Advisory Group includes BMW Group, Itron, PCS Energy, Engie Impact, Audi of America, Nissan Group of North America, Proterra, BYD Motors, IBEW 11/NECA, and many others.

About LACI

LACI 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. Learn more at laci.org

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Second Cohort of Market Access Program Provides On-The-Ground Mobility Solutions For Communities Across Los Angeles

LACI recently launched its latest cohort of our Market Access program, which is designed to scale startups through transformative energy, transportation and circular economy pilots and supportive services. Series A startups in Southern California with less than $25 million raised were invited to apply and we admitted three companies who are now working with our teams to put their innovative tech into practice and into communities around Los Angeles.

Startups involved with the pilots receive: grant funding and access to LACI’s Impact Fund and Debt Fund; connection to government and corporate stakeholders; project scoping, implementation management, and evaluation advice throughout the 1-2 year-long pilot term with in-depth pilot measurement, analysis, and reporting including quarterly and final reports; and access to Market Transformation pilot partners.

This second cohort includes the teams at Circuit and Chewbox, which are integrating their tech in our zero-emissions community pilot program that recently launched in Leimert Park. The other company in this cohort is Automotus, which is working with our team to set up the first-in-the-nation zero-emissions last-mile delivery zone in downtown Santa Monica. 

Circuit makes transportation easier, greener, and more enjoyable by building on-demand, last-mile shuttle services for cities around the US. Using an on-demand app, fleets of electric cars, and teams of W2 drivers, they’ve provided over 3.5 million rides without charging a dollar or burning an ounce of gas. In Leimert Park, Circuit’s two Neighborhood Electric Vehicle shuttles operate within a set coverage area for on-demand service from Thursday through Sunday.

 

ChewBox provides a cloud-based OS for ghost kitchens, making opening a restaurant as simple as launching a Twitter account. They are working with South LA Cafe in the same community to pilot cafe and market delivery across Los Angeles County, making it their first new restaurant integration.

Automotus is a computer vision company that helps cities better understand and manage their increasingly complex curb space while also helping commercial fleets get more dedicated access to the curb. Working with our pilots team in a 1-mile radius in downtown Santa Monica they will help develop a blueprint for cities to adopt zero-emissions delivery zones for last-mile delivery and best practices for integrating sidewalk delivery robots, e-Scooters, e-Bikes, light-, medium-, and heavy-duty EVs, as well as commercial EV car shares on our city streets.

These pilots that employ each of these companies’ tech will provide immediate benefits to the local community with reduced air pollution, GHG emissions, noise, and congestion, as well as improved safety. Additionally, they will provide economic opportunity to small businesses and individuals through access to zone benefit, workforce development through local hires and cleantech job training, and help create an important mode shift for goods and people movement in Los Angeles. 

LACI’s first cohort in the Market Access program included URB-E and Envoy, which successfully deployed their tech in community pilots in Long Beach, Pacoima, and San Pedro. URB-E scooters were deployed with the Long Beach Conservation Corps and Envoy’s EV car-sharing service is currently being used in communities that previously had little to no access to EVs in their neighborhoods. 

To learn more about our startup incubation programs please visit here.

Power Day 2020: Celebrating the Accomplishments of the LA Regional Energy Innovation Ecosystem

On October 1, the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) hosted its Second Annual LACI Power Day Conference, bringing together the clean energy ecosystem in California and celebrating accomplishments that have resulted from bold policy commitments. The event provided LACI Startups with the opportunity to showcase their technology to stakeholders in the region and broaden their potential customer and partner base. 

Opening Remarks 

LACI’s President and CEO, Matt Petersen, kicked off the event welcoming guests  and affirmed the importance of clean energy innovation and technology including LACI’s support of Governor Newsom’s commitment to accelerate the state’s decarbonization goals, including the goal of a clean energy grid by 2045.

After, California Energy Commission Vice-Chair Janea Scott provided opening remarks, spotlighting the renewal of the Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) program through 2030 that will invest $1.5 billion in clean technology over the next 10 years. Commissioner Scott also emphasized the Empower Innovation Network Platform that enables users to find resources and funding opportunities and connects individuals and organizations to create a clean energy economy for all. 

Innovators Pitch Competition

In the first pitch session of the day, CAMUS Energy and Green Light Labs, graduates from LACIs Innovators Program, a light touch one-year program for cleantech startups in the pre seed stage, pitched their clean technology and how their solution provides benefits in a post-COVID Society. In order to select a winner from this pitch competition LACI invited venture capital partners from Tech Coast Angels, Element 8, and Pasadena Angels to judge the pitches, culminating with Green Light Labs as the winner.

Power Talk Panels

The second part of the half day event was filled with panels focused on two major industry topics: Transportation and Battery Circularity. 

The Transportation Panel focused on transportation needs in a post-COVID Society and how to make zero emission and clean mobility accessible to all. The panel was moderated by Aric Ohana, the CEO of Envoy There, who led the discussion with industry leaders including Phil Washington, CEO of LA Metro, Stephanie Wiggins, CEO of MetroLink, Tamika Butler, transportation advocate and Principal of Tamika L. Butler Consulting, and Peter Lee, CEO of URB-E. Their discussion touched on how the COVID-19 Pandemic affected transportation operations and ridership as well as what policies, investments and behavioral changes are needed to ensure equitable clean public transit. 

The battery circularity panel was led by LACI’s very own Alex Mitchell, Sr. Vice President of Unlocking Innovation. Alex navigated panelists through a discussion on the potential for developing a marketplace for second life batteries, the challenges and  opportunities that exist around battery recycling and how the clean energy ecosystem should capitalize on those opportunities. The panel consisted of Jeremie Papin, Vice Chairman of Nissan North America,  Teresa Bui, Special Advisor at Cal Recycle, Arcady Sosinov, CEO of FreeWire Technologies, and Vaughn Blake, General Partner of Blue Bear Capital.

 

Remarks from UCLA’s Provost 

In between the first and second half of the day, Dr. Emily A. Carter, UCLA’s Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost provided remarks on how Los Angeles is positioned to lead the state and the nation in the adoption and deployment of sustainable city practices. Dr. Carter highlighted the energy and climate research that has been produced by UCLA as a living lab and the critical collaboration between LACI and UCLA that leads to innovative technology solutions.

Incubation Pilot Pitch Showcase

Later in the day, we showcased LACI startup companies in our Incubator program through a pilot project showcase with technology solutions related to Clean Energy, Clean Mobility and Circular Economy Solutions. Pitches from the twelve LACI Incubation Cohort 1 startups companies focused on their Pilot Project funded by LACI’s Pilots Program under its Market Transformation Pillar.  Startups featured in the Showcase included:  Alumina, ChargerHelp Inc., ePave, JumpWatts, Maxwell Vehicles, Neocharge, Noria Water Technologies, SEED, Sparkcharge, Substance Power and Mobility, TBM Designs , Xeal

Keynote Speaker Address from Board Chair of the Energy Foundation

Lastly, the day concluded with a speech from our Keynote Speaker, Rose McKinney-James, Board Chair of the Energy Foundation. She discussed the urgent need for climate change mitigation action, additional collaboration, and the intersection of clean energy and social justice. She spotlighted the important role that innovation plays in addressing challenges and advancing advocacy to support economic, environmental and social issues.   

Moving forward

The half-day event brought together 288 stakeholders from diverse backgrounds and sectors – Including 197 unique organizations such as corporate business, utilities, investors, government agencies, non-profits, startups, other accelerators, national labs and universities. The connections established through this event by LACI enable best practices and new technology trends to be shared throughout the ecosystem strengthening our collective efforts to combat climate change and create an inclusive green economy. We look forward to next year’s Power Day and celebrating the continued efforts and achievements of the clean energy ecosystem.

Watch portions of LACI Power Day 2020 below via our Power Day 2020 YouTube playlist.

To learn more about LACI’s Pilots Programs email Pilots@LACI.org or visit our website. For more information on how to invest in a LACI Startup email Taj@LACI.org.

Power Day 2020 YouTube Playlist