Growing Green: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Cleantech Innovation in San Diego
[Editors note: Architect Robert Noble wrote this article with Glenn Croston]
The San Diego area is the home of numerous cleantech businesses that are developing innovative green cars (Aptera, V-Vehicle Co.), developing alternative fuels (GreenHouse International, Synthetic Genomics Inc., Sapphire Energy), finding alternatives to petrochemicals (Genomatica, Verdezyne), and providing renewable energy and energy efficiency solutions (KEMA, Kyocera, Envision Solar).
Assisting our growing cluster is a network of non-profits, trade groups, government agencies, universities, and investors who share a common interest in cultivating a green economy. These groups collaborate on many projects, strengthening our vision for more green businesses, jobs, and investments in cleantech innovation. But while they share common goals, local green groups are also distinct in many ways and often compete for money, members, and media; their varying perspective, focus, message, membership, and goals can be confusing. If you’re an entrepreneur, how can you find support for the green innovations you hope to commercialize? Where do investors look for opportunities and advice? Where can founders find the resources they need to move their ventures forward?
We’ve compiled a listing of these groups to help San Diego entrepreneurs and others find the resources they need to grow green, and to help San Diego’s green economy grow.
—The California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE) is the cornerstone in developing San Diego’s green business cluster. As a non-profit, the CCSE works to advance the adoption of renewable energy, green building design, clean transportation options, and energy efficiency by providing workshops, information, and training.
—Cleantech San Diego is a membership-based non-profit industry association that sponsors events for businesses, investors, and others working in the cleantech cluster. They summarize their mission on their website, saying, “Cleantech San Diego advocates for new sources of investment capital, workforce development, international trade, federal and state research funding, targeted regulation, and sustainable land use planning and development.”
—San Diego Clean Enterprise Program, which is administered by Cleantech San Diego through a partnership with the City of San Diego and the mayor, which provides interest-free financing for energy efficiency improvements for small businesses. Cleantech San Diego also is working with the rest of the green community to support funding and grant applications, such as the effort to win $260 million in Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs) for local solar projects.