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Ecopreneurist: Need Advice on Starting (and Funding) Your Cleantech Business?

Editor’s note: Many investors see clean technology as a smart bet these days… but how do you get your cleantech business plan in front of the people with the money? Lead Edwards at Ecopreneurist points to one source of advice for clean/green entrepreneurs: universities… and some of this advice is free. This post was originally published on Monday, March 31, 2008.

If you are a scientist or researcher with a great idea for a green business, you should check out what universities have to offer you (even if you are not in school).Lake Tahoe

As an example of the types of programs available, consider UC Davis’s Green Technology Entrepreneurship Academy (GTEA), which provides a free, week-long intensive for science and engineering researchers. Yes, I did say free, and it’s held at Lake Tahoe, Nevada in July—a very nice plus.

According to UC Davis Center for Entrepreneurship Assistant Director, Nicole Starsinic, the GTEA combines classroom learning with a team project, which pairs scientists with business school students and professionals. A number of venture capital firms, law firms, and other professionals, which are listed in the Academy’s schedule, devote time in the hope of discovering the cleantech Google.

Apply: If you are interested or know someone who would be a good candidate for the GTEA, please note that applications are due May 2, 2008.

Up and Coming Green Tech Companies

Two interesting companies that are emerging from last year’s GTAE show the range or projects that are appropriate for the Academy. MIT doctoral student Jon Mapel has developed a high-efficiency, low-cost solar electrical concentrator that uses 300 times fewer solar cells than conventional methods. In the Center for Entrepreneurship’s latest newsletter (out today), Mapel says he will soon follow up with the venture capitalists and angel investors he met at GTEA last summer. Another participant who started a business with his GTEA experience is UC Davis doctoral student Peter Tittman whose company, Forest Eye, will help forestland managers meet financial and environmental goals by conducting carbon, timber and biomass inventory using an aerial laser scanning technology.

Programs for Green Entrepreneurs at Other Universities

Many universities have business plan competitions that are open to non-students. Some competitions have cash prizes, and some startups get angel or VC funding right out of these competitions.

We’d love to hear your stories if you have participated in any university or foundation-sponsored programs or competitions for entrepreneurs.

Photo of Lake Tahoe from Wikimedia Commons.

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Jeff McIntire-Strasburg is the founder and editor of sustainablog. You can keep up with all of his writing at Facebook, and at


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