Caltech and OnGreen Receive DOE Grant to Foster Student Entrepreneurship in Cleantech

The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and their Resnick Institute, in partnership with UC Los Angeles (UCLA), University of Southern California (USC), and OnGreen, announced today they received a $360,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to accelerate cleantech innovation by fostering student entrepreneurship through a Western Regional business plan competition. This public-private consortium, called First Look West (FLoW), builds upon the mission of the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy to improve energy efficiency and productivity and bring reliable, affordable clean technologies to market. Caltech

The DOE developed the National University Clean Energy Business Challenge under the Obama Administration’s Startup America initiative to broaden innovation and commercialization efforts and to champion a nation-wide energy entrepreneurship ecosystem. Over the next three years, funds totaling $2 million dollars will be distributed to six regional competitions with the objective of building a new generation of energy leaders, a strong workforce, and an overall green economy.

“By promoting innovation at our nation’s universities and cultivating America’s next generation scientific and technical leaders, we will ensure our nation's competitiveness in the clean energy economy of tomorrow," said the DOE’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Dr. Henry Kelly. "The awards announced today support the Administration's continued effort to ensure that America has the workforce we need to secure our energy future, create jobs here at home, and win the future.”

"OnGreen is proud to be the primary private partner to First Look West's (FLoW) winning proposal led by Caltech," said Erik Steeb, Vice President of Marketing for OnGreen. "The awarding of the DOE prize to FLoW is a recognition of the innovation and entrepreneurship emanating from the Western region and a vote of confidence in the public-private partnership model as exemplified by Caltech, USC, UCLA, and OnGreen."

Over the course of three years, the FLoW competition, which was initially spearheaded by the Resnick Institute in collaboration with Caltech’s Office of Technology Transfer and OnGreen, expects to double the number of student groups engaged in the competition and double the mentorship pool year over year. With OnGreen as the largest global cleantech marketplace and an online community of over 2,000 individuals, including investors, academic and business experts, entrepreneurs, government professionals, and service providers, the company will develop a network of mentors who can guide the student groups and provide the business resources necessary to reach the next phase of a company’s growth stage.

Harry Atwater, Director of the Resnick Institute and Howard Hughes Professor at Caltech, expresses his confidence in the collaboration by saying, “The Resnick Institute is excited to work with its partners to foster clean-energy innovation among young scientists in the Western United States."

The award from DOE reflects OnGreen’s commitment to support budding entrepreneurs and start-up companies. For example, the company recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Venture for America, a non-profit that aims to help recent grads develop skills in start-ups, reinvest in underserved communities, and ultimately, create 100,000 new jobs by 2025.