San Francisco Nurtures Cleantech Industry Through CleantechSF

As part of his 17-point jobs plan for San Francisco, Mayor Lee announced "CleantechSF" to support the growth of the cleantech industry and cleantech jobs there.

"This innovative partnership brings together the California Clean Energy Fund and key City departments, with the singular goal of keeping San Francisco the leading center for cleantech," he says.

There about 280 cleantech companies in San Francisco, one the largest and most concentrated cleantech clusters in the world. 

The goal is to support early stage cleantech companies, attract cleantech anchoring institutions and use city assets to streamline demonstration and testing of clean technologies.

"San Francisco is the center of the largest cluster of cleantech businesses in the nation, and we are confident that this partnership will help maintain and expand that leadership position," says Paul Frankel of the California Clean Energy Fund (CalCEF), one of the partners.

"A big challenge for young startups is finding organizations that are willing to pilot their products," says Mitch Lowe, Founding Partner of the new Greenstart incubator. "We met with Mayor Lee over a year ago, and asked what the city could do to help with this problem. CleantechSF is the answer – Mayor Lee heard our request loud and clear, and this demonstration and piloting program is exactly what the cleantech startup community needs."

During this first phase, CleantechSF will focus on three areas:

1. Establish Living Innovation Zones: support demonstration and testing of clean technologies. 

CalCEF will work with the City to create an institutionalized and streamlined citywide process to use City properties, buildings, and other public assets to pilot and evaluate a broad array of cleantech products. This may ultimately take the form of enabling legislation, master agreements, special zoning or building permits for limited term pilot projects and concept demonstrations.

New York City adopted a version of this program last year. It allows cleantech start-ups to test drive energy efficiency products in city buildings.

2. Support New Company Growth and Jobs:  This includes developing a support network of mentors and services for San Francisco cleantech startups; recruiting cleantech incubators and cowork spaces to the city; and connecting cleantech companies to San Francisco’s workforce. 

3. Attract Cleantech Anchoring Institutions: attract cleantech industry anchors such as science and engineering universities, national labs, research centers, non-governmental organizations, and other major firms. 

Cleantech SF is a partnership between the Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation, the Office of Economic and Workforce Development, the San Francisco Department of Environment, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and the California Clean Energy Fund.

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