San Diego, CA, November 06, 2008 -- San Diego professors who are developing technologies that will fuel the continued growth of the region’s “clean tech cluster” recently received a financial boost through the 2008 Clean Tech Innovation Challenge.
The Clean Tech Innovation Challenge is a partnership between the City of San Diego, UC San Diego’s William J. von Liebig Center for Entrepreneurism and San Diego State University (SDSU). The program is designed to accelerate the commercialization of clean technologies out of university labs as part of the city’s goal to promote the growth of the local clean tech industry. Program participants include faculty from UC San Diego, SDSU, University of San Diego and Alliant International University. Qualcomm, Inc. co-sponsored the first grant awards.
“This Clean Tech initiative is an example of how the San Diego community, its universities, local government and the private sector can join forces to create economic growth in the region around technology sectors,” said Rosibel Ochoa, the von Liebig Center’s acting executive director.
Researchers from UC San Diego and SDSU will receive funding and additional assistance to develop and commercialize new solar technologies, unique ways to convert waste heat to electricity, and novel methods of extracting biodiesel from algae.
“Clean tech is a natural extension of some of the academic and commercial strengths here in San Diego, including electronics, chemistry and biochemistry,” said Mike Rondelli, director of the San Diego State Research Foundation.
|(L-R) Frieder Seible Dean of the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering; San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders; and Terry Moore, Executive Director, Morrison & Foerster Venture Network.|
Mayor Jerry Sanders, said during the awards event, “The universities represented here tonight have literally put San Diego on the map. Clean tech is the latest example.”
As part of the Clean Tech Innovation Challenge, each researcher nets $50,000, plus business advisory services from the von Liebig Center’s consultants. In addition, a team of MBA students from the University of San Diego or Alliant International University will work with each professor in order to conduct market research and create a business plan around the technology. The professors can continue working with their advisor in developing a commercialization plan for the technology and to introduce them to potential funders.
Each grant will support the development of prototypes or the generation of key data that is needed to demonstrate the commercial viability of the technology. The expected timeline for the completion of this program is 12 months. In addition, the awardees have access to other programs like CONNECT’s Springboard and the Tech Coast Angeles’ Seed track program. They can also seek partnerships with corporations to further develop their technologies.
Rosibel Ochoa, the von Liebig Center’s acting executive director, discusses clean tech with attendees of the 2008 Clean Tech Innovation Challenge Awards Ceremony.
“Many of these technologies are so early stage that many investors don’t fund them,” Ochoa said. “The importance of a program like the Clean Tech Initiative is it allows these researchers to move their technologies further up the value chain so they become attractive to investors or a company to help move them forward.
“UC San Diego is becoming an experimental laboratory for clean technology,” she added. “The von Liebig Center is a platform that can be used to demonstrate how these inventions can be turned into commercial technologies.”
Ochoa said the Clean Tech Innovation Challenge is unique because it is a private-public partnership.
Jacobs School Dean Frieder Seible recognized the important roles that the City of San Diego, the von Liebig Foundation and Qualcomm played in making the 2008 Clean Tech Innovation Challenge possible. Dean Seible offered tokens of appreciation to Mayor Jerry Sander, Jean Goggins from the von Liebig Foundation, and Peggy Johnson, Executive Vice President of the Americas and India, Qualcomm.
“The local clean technology industry could be as big as the telecommunications or biotechnology industry, but it requires a concerted effort,” she said. “It’s important to have this type of public-private partnership to create economic growth and jobs.”
Jacques Chirazi, program manager for the City of San Diego Clean Tech Initiative, said the program is right in line with San Diego’s famed success of brining innovations from the lab to the marketplace.
“Qualcomm and Cymer are great examples of that,” Chirazi said. “We need to continue to tap into the knowledge we have at our local research institutions and universities like UC San Diego and SDSU.
“San Diego has a lot of homegrown technology and science that we can nurture and grow,” he added. “The von Liebig Center is a unique model to help this region accomplish that. The center has been recognized as one of the best models in the nation for accelerating research in the nation. The center has a very well designed process of bringing technology from concept to commercialization.”
Chirazi said one of the goals of the Clean Tech Innovation Challenge is to inspire innovation in this growing field by encouraging more local researchers, corporations and the San Diego business community to participate in the program.
The following is a brief description of the Clean Tech Innovation Challenge winners and their projects:
Paul Yu, a Jacobs School electrical engineering professor, won a Clean Tech Innovation Challenge grant to develop an efficient solar spectral concentrator.
Yu Qiao, a Jacobs School structural engineering professor at UC San Diego, won a Clean Tech Innovation Challenge grant to develop ways to convert waste heat to electricity by using a nanoporous system.
John J. Love (right), Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, San Diego State University won a Clean Tech Innovation Challenge grant to process biodiesel from algae.
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