LACI Announces Creation of $5 Million Early Stage Impact Investment Fund

Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator Announces Creation of $5 Million Early-Stage Impact Investment Fund, Opens Call for Startups to Apply for New Cohort-Based Incubation Program

Impact Fund announces first two investments into LACI portfolio companies Seatrec and Freewire; Renewed startup incubation program offers $20,000 for pilot deployment, focuses on transportation electrification, clean energy, and circular economy


Los Angeles, January 15, 2020—The Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) has launched a LACI Impact Fund for early-stage cleantech startups. As the Los Angeles-area continues to strengthen its position as a global leader in cleantech innovation and sustainability, the Fund will invest in a diverse slate of entrepreneurs ready to bring innovative and scalable cleantech technologies to market.

“The urgency of the climate crisis demands accelerated action – that’s why we are thrilled to announce the LACI Impact Fund, which will help scale innovation from startup entrepreneurs to help meet our region’s bold zero emissions transportation goals as well as solutions for clean energy and the circular economy,” said LACI President and CEO Matt Petersen. “As we relaunch our first cohort based startup program, the Fund provides a new tool to give our portfolio companies the opportunity for investment that aligns with their commitment to environmental, diversity and social impact.”

LACI’s first two investments in LACI portfolio companies Seatrec and FreeWire Technologies represent the organization’s commitment to accelerating the transportation electrification and 100 percent clean energy revolutions.

“Monitoring deep ocean areas with a device that uses no fuel is a key step in the fight against climate change,” said Seatrec Cofounder and CEO Dr. Yi Chao. “The LACI Impact Fund enabled Seatrec to scale and accelerate product development.” 

“We’re enabling the rapid transition to zero emissions transportation revolution with ultrafast EV charging technology that also minimizes impacts on the grid,” said FreeWire Founder and CEO Arcady Sosinov. “The LACI Impact Fund is crucial because it will help us focus our social and environmental commitments as we scale.”

The $5 million LACI Impact Fund invests in LACI portfolio companies as a follow-on investor in active seed, Series A, and Series B rounds. LACI President and CEO Matt Petersen, California State Senate emeriti President pro Tempore Kevin de León (as a volunteer), and representatives from Emerson Collective, a social change organization, will lead the Fund’s Investment Committee. 

The Fund considers a range of criteria when making investments, including: 

  • Economic Impact – Including the number of employees from traditionally underrepresented communities and participation in workforce development initiatives;
  • Environmental Impact – Including the current and potential for GHG emissions avoided, water savings, and waste diverted;
  • Diversity Impact – Including founder, leadership team and board makeup; and
  • Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) & Community Impact – Including supply chain sustainability, volunteerism, & giving.

Led by Emily Bjorkland Drake, SVP of Unlocking Innovation, LACI’s renewed, cohort based Incubation Program is now recruiting for Cohort 1. In addition to eligibility for the Fund, LACI startups also benefit from the partnership with City of LA and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power through access to the world-class, 61,000 square foot La Kretz Innovation Campus (LKIC).

Participating startups will also benefit from:

  • Advanced startup curriculum and hands-on advisory services from executive coaches;
  • Eligibility for up to $20,000 for small-scale pilot deployment, and financing opportunities from the LACI Debt Fund; and
  • Access to $160,000 in business services and perks, and other program benefits.

The launch of the Fund comes as part of a breakthrough year for LACI which released of the Zero Emissions 2028 Roadmap in November 2019 with L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and others.  The Roadmap is a result of the unprecedented Transportation Electrification Partnership led by LACI, City of Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti, County of Los Angeles, LADWP, SCE, CARB, & LA Metro, and includes private partners like Audi, BMW, Proterra, Amply (a LACI portfolio company). The Roadmap sets the nation’s most ambitious transportation electrification targets—to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution while addressing equity and growing the regional economy—by the time the world arrives in Greater Los Angeles for the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games. 

In December 2019, LACI also announced the publication of the Cleantech Cities: Accelerating Climate Action Through Startups and Corporate Innovation report at the 2019 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP25). The report, issued by LACI in partnership with C40 and with in-kind research and analysis from PwC, outlines the critical role collaboration between cities and cleantech entrepreneurs will play in accelerating climate action and securing a 1.5°C future for our planet. The reports recommendations shows that if followed, there is an opportunity to create a $5 trillion market while further reducing GHG emissions by another 35 percent.


About LACI

The Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI), a private nonprofit organization, is creating an inclusive green economy by unlocking innovation (through working with startups to accelerate the commercialization of clean technologies), transforming markets (through partnerships in transportation, energy and sustainable cities) and enhancing communities (through workforce development, pilots and other programs). Founded as an economic development initiative by the City of Los Angeles and its Department of Water & Power (LADWP), LACI is recognized as one of the most innovative business incubators in the world by UBI. In the past seven years, LACI has helped 108 portfolio companies raise $221M in funding, $220M in revenue, create 1,750 jobs, and deliver more than $393M in long term economic value. Learn more at


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Sunshine Sachs

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