Slightly over three million dollars is being offered to clean energy small businesses and entrepreneurs as part of the National Incubator Initiative. Energy Secretary Moniz made the announcement in Chicago, “With the right tools, these businesses and entrepreneurs can make an even bigger contribution to the development of advanced clean energy technologies. This initiative will drive innovation and foster cooperation in the clean energy business community, further advancing our clean energy economy and bringing the U.S. closer to its low-carbon future.”
The NextEnergy and Clean Energy Trust Midwest Innovation Bridge organizations will receive $745,000. Startups and entrepreneurs will be able to use testing and demonstration sites both in Michigan and Illinois. Support will be offered to clean energy businesses to help them relate directly with customers and there will be showcases to try to help startups demonstrate their products.
The same amount will be granted to the Austin Technology Incubator (ATI) at the University of Texas, Austin. Similar testing resources and other tools will be made available to try to support clean energy entrepreneurs in Texas and New Mexico. An incubator network will be created to help local startups either in person or online.
Almost $730,000 will be made available in the Los Angeles area to create a California clean energy incubator collaboration. Innovation often takes place during such collaborations, because entrepreneurs and inventors share information and give one another feedback. These kind of interactions tend to spark new ideas and insights, which can become new products or services.
The DOE’s Technology to Market program has a number of focus areas, but two jump out in relation to the incubators,
- “We support innovation and entrepreneurship in universities through student competitions and other initiatives to generate new ideas and business proposals.”
- “We support community-based deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy systems, focusing on areas with high energy costs and heavy dependence on fossil fuels.”
Students often have enthusiasm for trying to change the world and can generate creative solutions because they haven’t been fully indoctrinated into societal expectations. Additionally, local residents frequently know their own communities well and care about them more than top-level government officials that don’t live there. So, funding students and community-level projects seems practical and sensible. Such investments also can create local jobs.
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