California State University (CSU) has partnered with the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) to develop the next generation of clean energy entrepreneurs.
The CSU received a $250,000 grant from LACI’s new Energize California initiative that will fund innovation workshops and events for students, faculty, staff and community members at five Los Angeles-area CSU campuses over the next five years.
The clean energy sector is growing at a rapid pace as California reduces its dependence on fossil fuels. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Department of Energy, more than 519,000 Californians are currently working in the clean energy industry and the number is expected to grow given the state’s ambitious clean energy goals.
“These workshops will encourage more students and entrepreneurs to pursue careers in the clean energy industry and inspire innovations that will keep California the U.S. leader in promoting green technology,” said CSU Water Resources and Policy Initiatives Director Boykin Witherspoon, who applied for the grant and now oversees the CSU’s function and campus involvement in the initiative.
“The CSU boasts a long-existing commitment to sustainability with campuses conducting their own cutting-edge research in these fields making them the perfect sites to foster exciting new developments in clean energy,” Witherspoon said.
The workshops—hosted by Dominguez Hills, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Northridge and Pomona—will help CSU and other local student entrepreneurs learn about resources and programs that could help them bring new clean energy technologies to the market. Students will also have the opportunity to utilize campus entrepreneurial programs and connect with faculty as well as business and community leaders. Workshops of various formats will be included, such as a “Shark Tank” style activity for students to practice their idea pitching skills.
The five host campuses will hold two workshops per year for five years, with the first event scheduled for January 2018 at CSU Dominguez Hills.
Energize California is funded by a six-year, $5 million grant from the California Energy Commission as part of a statewide initiative to meet increasing demand for innovation in the energy sector as more renewable resources are deployed.
LACI will serve as the central coordinating organization for the clean-energy sector in Southern California and will convene industry leaders to support new technologies and entrepreneurs at “Innovation Hubs” in Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles and Orange Counties. A sixth CSU campus, CSU Channel Islands, will serve as Ventura County’s Innovation Hub.