How California’s Clean Tech Ecosystem is Coming Together

19 Mar

Image from the Danish Wind Industry Association:

California is the nation’s undisputed leader in clean-tech investment and innovation. The state attracts about $2.8 billion in clean-tech venture capital, amounting to 57 percent of the $4.9 billion invested nationally. All of this is encouraging news for a nascent sector trying to establish itself in a weak economy.

To harness this interest and investment in clean technology, cities across the state are collaborating with partners in the private and non-profit sectors to encourage clean-tech business investment and innovation within their boundaries. This has led to the establishment of several incubators across the state. Though funding mechanisms and partnership structures vary, these establishments all offer business development services for start-ups.

The Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) aids in the development of start-up clean tech companies. The incubator is a non-profit funded by both public and private sources, including the City of Los Angeles, local universities, the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation, and the LA Chamber of Commerce. The incubator works by identifying promising startups and connecting them with experts in the field. They also grant access to funding sources and flexible office space in a Downtown Los Angeles complex. The incubator continues to grow, reaching 50 percent of capacity at its temporary location more than six months ahead of schedule.

The incubator resides within LA’s emerging Clean Tech Corridor, alongside tenants like the Greenbar Collective. The organic distillery sits on the edge of downtown and is, according to its co-founder, one of the first establishments in the Clean Tech Corridor. The distillery prides itself on planting one tree for each bottle of booze it produces (the company has planted more than 100,000 trees thus far).

In a similar (albeit less boozy) vein, Pasadena is working to solidify a local biotech cluster. The Pasadena Bioscience Collaborative is a non-profit established to support the biotechnology industry in the San Gabriel Valley just outside of Los Angeles. The Collaborative supports new companies by providing low-cost specialized lab space. It also provides specialized biotechnology training as well as access to experts in intellectual property, law and financial planning. Furthermore the collaborative guarantees 100% ownership of a tenant’s intellectual property. Like the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator, the Bioscience Collaborative came about through a joint-effort of the City of Pasadena and local universities. Currently, the Collaborative provides 6,000 square feet for start-ups and is expanding into a second facility.

Taking things up north, the Hatchery in San Francisco is a co-working space established by high-tech startup experts. Like LA’s Clean Tech incubator, the Hatchery provides a flexible working space for firms in the technology sector. But its membership base has expanded to include start-ups in social media, legal, finance, high-tech advertising/public relations, software, and design. The Hatchery is unique in its emphasis on cross-collaboration amongst its members from different industry sectors. It also provides members access to an impressive network of leading Bay Area venture capital investors.

In today’s difficult economy, these private-public partnerships are providing much needed support for clean technology start-ups. Their success bodes well for our nation’s ability to produce clean energy solutions and provide much needed, high-quality jobs.

One Response to “How California’s Clean Tech Ecosystem is Coming Together”


  1. Case Study #2: Clean Technology Sector « The ELP Blog - September 18, 2012

    […] the launch of clean tech startups in EV charging, turbine, and solar technology. As we noted a few months back, LACI works closely with nearby universities, local government, and businesses. Now, the Incubator […]

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