Growing Green: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Cleantech Innovation in San Diego

11/20/09

[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.

San Diego Gas & Electric committed to develop a distributed solar power generation system in the San Diego region in 2008. So it’s no surprise that … Next Page »

Robert Noble is the founder, chairman, and CEO of San Diego-based Envision Solar International, Inc. and Chairs the California Center for Sustainable Energy. He is an architect, environmental designer, industrial designer and environmental technology entrepreneur. Follow @

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  • http://www.cleanTALKsd.org Holli Garrett

    I would like to add one more networking group. Founded early in 2009, CleanTALK San Diego Professional Networking Group is a non-profit association focused on creating networking and educational opportunities for professional involved in and interested in the clean technology industry.

    After 45 minutes of enjoyable networking, the group sets down to hear a presentation from a local clean tech company. The topics in 2009 covered biofuels, presented by Verenium; solar panels, presented by a series of panelists; and electric vehicles, presented by the SD Clean Fuels Coalition. The 2010 calendar promises to discuss smart grids, wind, desalination, biomimicry and more.

    The meetings occur every two months at various locations around town.

  • http://www.cleanTALKsd.org Holli Garrett

    I would like to add one more networking group. Founded early in 2009, CleanTALK San Diego Professional Networking Group is a non-profit association focused on creating networking and educational opportunities for professional involved in and interested in the clean technology industry.

    After 45 minutes of enjoyable networking, the group sets down to hear a presentation from a local clean tech company. The topics in 2009 covered biofuels, presented by Verenium; solar panels, presented by a series of panelists; and electric vehicles, presented by the SD Clean Fuels Coalition. The 2010 calendar promises to discuss smart grids, wind, desalination, biomimicry and more.

    The meetings occur every two months at various locations around town. See the website for more details.

  • http://thechiefgreenofficer.com The Chief Green Officer

    I would like to add another company as well. I’m an owner in EcoHub, which launches next Thursday (Feb 25th). EcoHub is a new co-working and flex-space campus centrally located at 4542 Ruffner St. off Balboa at I-805. EcoHub is designed to provide green entrepreneurs with a unique professional space to collaborate, grow and thrive. Members will have access to conference rooms, business services and office suites of virtually any size to expand into. EcoHub is poised to be the center of the fast-growing green business community.

    Please call 1-888-277-6304 and dial “0″ to leave a message, and a representative will contact you shortly. This is the office space of choice for small environmental ventures.