Clean Energy Accelerator Awarded $1.5 Million Federally Matched Grant to Expand Energy Startup Support in the Inland Empire
The University of San Diego (USD), in partnership with Cleantech San Diego and California State University, San Marcos, has been awarded a three-year federally matched $1.5 million i6 Regional Innovation Strategies grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (under the Department of Commerce) to scale up the capacity of the San Diego Regional Energy Innovation Network (SDREIN) program and support clean energy startups located in Riverside and San Bernardino counties. The University of California, Riverside is supporting the program with $181,000 of in-kind matching, office space and logistical support for the Inland Empire.
SDREIN was formed in 2016 as a result of a five-year, $5 million grant from the California Energy Commission to offer free business, technical and regulatory services to clean energy startups in the areas of San Diego, Imperial, Riverside and San Bernardino. Managed by Cleantech San Diego and supported by eight regional partners, the program works to accelerate the commercialization of breakthrough electric energy technologies capable of helping California meet the aggressive goals of its climate action plan. To date, among the 30 startup companies accepted by SDREIN, two are headquartered in the Inland Empire.
Over the three-year grant period, the i6 program has a goal of adding more than 50 startups from the Inland Empire, helping them raise capital, commercialize their offerings and create jobs in the region.
“We are grateful to the EDA for this i6 grant, which allows us to expand SDREIN service offerings and our ability to assist energy entrepreneurs in all four counties, while targeting the Inland Empire for additional outreach and ecosystem-building around cleantech innovation,” said Cleantech San Diego President and CEO Jason Anderson.
The i6 grant funds will be used by USD and its partners to hire an Inland Empire program manager who will conduct on-the-ground entrepreneurial outreach and bring together industry and financial stakeholders in support of regional clean energy innovation. The program manager will be co-located at UCR EPIC facilities in Riverside, where they will have the opportunity to collaborate with startup entrepreneurs, mentors and innovators from the region. UCR EPIC is also an i6-funded program focused on jumpstarting the technology innovation ecosystem in the Inland Empire.
These funds will also pay for student internships and projects that accelerate the development of SDREIN startups, while exposing students to career opportunities in Inland Empire within the energy sector.
“We are excited to lead this effort that will build upon the strengths and challenges of the Inland Empire economy to develop innovative clean energy firms and high-paying jobs,” said USD Shiley-Marcos Professor of Engineering and Entrepreneurship Venkat Shastri, a successful entrepreneur who also has led several large grant awards.
This grant from the EDA and the collaboration with SDREIN will accelerate and complement UCR’s ongoing efforts to build the clean tech sector ecosystem in the region — one of the key areas of research excellence from UCR.
“We are eager and well-prepared to support clean energy innovation in our region, which offers tremendous potential for economic growth,” said Rosibel Ochoa, associate vice chancellor for technology partnerships at UC Riverside.
“The University of San Diego is thrilled to play a leading role in the development of this important ecosystem and in generating high tech jobs for our region’s future,” said USD Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering Dean Chell Roberts.
About Cleantech San Diego
Cleantech San Diego is a member-based trade organization that positions the greater San Diego region as a global leader in the cleantech economy and smart cities movement. As a nonprofit organization, Cleantech San Diego is uniquely suited to support the industry by fostering collaborations across the private-public-academic landscape, leading advocacy efforts to promote cleantech priorities, and encouraging investment in the San Diego region. Learn more at cleantechsandiego.org.
About UCR EPIC
UCR EPIC (Entrepreneurial, Proof of Concept and Innovation Center) has the tools, processes, resources and funding that qualified entrepreneurs might need to launch a company — working through a rigorous process to move an idea from the initial concept and help to qualify and validate the market for that idea. EPIC provides a wide variety of classes and seminars for those who have an innovation idea and wish to start a company. Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIR’s) work one-on-one with the entrepreneurs to coach them and help prepare their pitch deck for investors. EPIC also offers entrepreneur showcases for a real-world practice session with CEO’s, subject matter experts and angel investors to ensure these aspiring innovators are completely prepared. Learn more at https://www.ucreduotp.net/epic.
About the University of San Diego Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering
Currently ranked 11th in the nation for non-doctoral granting engineering programs by U.S. News & World Report, the USD Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering offers a unique dual bachelor of science/bachelor of arts degree to develop thinkers and leaders with solid technical, communications and problem-solving skills. Along with undergraduate degrees in computer science and electrical, integrated, industrial & systems, and mechanical engineering, the school offers a master’s degree in CyberSecurity Engineering.