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Saturday, February 4, 2023

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A solar farm in Imperial County, California. (Credit: A solar farm in Imperial County, California. (Credit:

Spurring Clean Energy Innovation

SDSU’s participation in a regional innovation center will support local entrepreneurs looking to break into the clean energy market.
By Michael Price

San Diego’s innovation economy will receive a boost from a recent $5 million grant from the California Energy Commission. The grant funds the creation of the San Diego Regional Energy Innovation Cluster, a consortium of nine organizations which includes San Diego State University. SDSU will receive $1 million of this funding to help advance the commercialization of potential clean energy solutions in the San Diego region.

In practice, that will mean helping SDSU’s faculty, students and staff, as well as local community members, who have ideas for establishing clean energy companies to evaluate market potential, develop successful business plans, handle their intellectual property needs and identify funding partners to carry their work forward.

Another aspect of the program will be to encourage companies that arise from this consortium to demonstrate and test prototypes in Imperial County, and especially at SDSU’s Imperial Valley campus. This could create a “pipeline of talent to Imperial Valley,” said John Crockett, senior director for research project development at the SDSU Research Foundation.

Other regional partners in the consortium include the University of California, San Diego, the University of San Diego, Cleantech San Diego and the Center for Sustainable Energy.

SDSU will establish energy technology priorities to guide innovators and will solicit ideas that meet those needs, but Crockett added that they will accept any good idea at any time. Energy storage, efficient water use, solar power, geothermal power, wind power and the intersection of water and energy are all examples of fields in need of innovation that could fit the consortium’s criteria, Crockett said.

“SDSU is prioritizing ideas that create jobs where the sun hits the dirt,” he said. “That means ideas that require people to be out there to extract the energy. We want to use people and resources to generate energy efficiently.”

Entrepreneurs interested in applying and mentors interested in getting involved in the program can fill out an interest form on the innovation cluster’s website.

“We’re happy to be working with our partners to help provide a broader contribution to the innovation economy,” Crockett said. “This is yet another representation of collaboration through the San Diego region.”