This week in the Green Tech Regional Report, we’ll be looking at some of the ways that green and cleantech businesses find support. One way of finding financial, creative and networking resources is through programs known as “incubators,” where several companies with a common goal–in this case, clean, green technology–unite in a common area. Because they are typically diverse in their areas of specialization, they do not compete, but rather share ideas and abilities to create stronger business practices for everyone, while cutting down on costs by sharing space and equipment. In Boston, MA, Greentown Labs held its official opening last week, as reported on by CNET. Housed in an early twentieth-century warehouse, Greentown is home to several new cleantech companies who utilize the space to build prototypes of their products, such as a solar-powered milk chiller by Promethean Power Systems, or an inflatable wind turbine.
Similarly, the Brooklyn Eagle reports that the Pratt Design Incubator for Sustainable Innovation added nine new companies to its roster. These companies specialize in areas of fashion design, home furnishing design and clean energy technology. The goal of the incubator is to unite companies in artistic and technological fields under the umbrella goal of sustainability. Businesses include Domestic Aesthetic, which provides affordable furnishings made in environmentally and socially responsible manners, and Sustainable South Bronx (SSBX), which creates sustainably made public furniture for the South Bronx community.
Similar in some ways to incubators, larger companies and investment firms have been creating programs and initiatives to boost support for smaller cleantech companies, and allow new companies to emerge. They provide education and resources for companies, as well as information for investors. In Chicago, private investment companies Black Coral Capital and McNally Capital, LLC, announced the launch of the Cleantech Syndicate, which allows members to share knowledge, networks and capital in their efforts to support and invest in cleantech companies. The investment team plans to invest $1.4 billion of their private capital into cleantech businesses over the next five years. Later in the year, they plan to launch a European Cleantech Syndicate, as well a US-based co-investment project that will allow non-members to invest as well.
The San Francisco Business Times reports that a new initiative was launched on June 29 in San Francisco to keep small cleantech companies in the East Bay region afloat. The initiative, which has a five-year timeframe, will provide training and education as well as the opportunity for groups of businesses to by renewable energy in bulk, which would save money.
The Coloradoan reports that in Fort Collins, CO, the Rocky Mountain Innosphere, a growing center for cleantech entrepreneurial companies, will begin offering entrepreneurial education and training to unemployed residents in the areas of renewable energy and energy efficiency. Their main goal is to launch 30 new businesses in these fields.
In other news, Mars Chocolate North America, which produces candy such as M&Ms and Snickers, plans to build a $250 million manufacturing facility in Topeka, KS, with 200 full-time positions available. When completed, the facility plans to be eligible for the LEED Gold certificate, the second-highest ranking offered by the US Green Building Council.
Also in Kansas, Shawnee-based Bio-Microbics, Inc. was given the 2011 Kansas Exporter of the Year Award for its successful international marketing. The company manufactures decentralized water treatment systems for residential and commercial use to harness renewable water resources from waste- and storm water. They use a combination of biological, biochemical and physical methods that reduce nitrogen and lessen the impact on water resources.
In international news, Dutch airline KLM plans to fuel its planes with biokerosene, derived from used frying oil. The project is still in its testing phase, but the company’s goal is for future flights to use half biofuel and half traditional kerosene, and plans to use this mixture on 200 flights between Amsterdam and Paris. The used frying oil is collected from restaurants and hotels, and is refined in the US.