17 August 2022, Sacramento, USA – An additional US$11 million in EPIC funding was approved by the California Energy Commission to extend the term of the California Test Bed (CalTestBed) initiative into 2026, a highly successful public-private partnership led by New Energy Nexus, and implemented in partnership with the University of California Office of the President (UCOP) and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab).
CalTestBed is supported by the California Energy Commission (CEC) with Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) funds. The Initiative provides early to mid-stage clean energy innovators access to world-class testing at one of more than 70 participating facilities at 9 University of California (UC) campuses and LBL. Entrepreneurs gain the opportunity to gather valuable data about their prototypes, advancing the technology’s path toward commercialization.
Vouchers of up to US$300,000 have been awarded to 40 competitively selected companies in two cohorts, and a third application submission window is open until 19 August 2022. CEC’s extension of this program allows for the funding of the third and fourth cohorts, enabling an additional 40 to 50 companies to benefit from the program. The extension will also fund ancillary program activities such as a national symposia.
Companies participating in the program have been applauded for substantial successes. A conservative accounting of CalTestBed’s cohort one companies shows nearly US$300 million in follow-on funding, and the creation of nearly 250 new jobs. Such achievements are attributable to the excellence of the clean energy innovations, the grit and determination of the founders, and a robust pipeline of support from the ecosystem of accelerators and incubators, research facilities and strategic programs such as CalSEED, CalTestBed, BRIDGE and RAMP curated by the CEC with EPIC funds.
Molly O’Hagan, the CEC contracts and agreements manager for CalTestBed, presented the case for approving the CalTestBed extension. She highlighted the program benefits to California ratepayers which include accelerating commercialization for clean energy technologies, lowering technology costs, and supporting economic development. She also mentioned the Entrepreneur Directory, CalTestBed Facilities Directory, and national CalTestBed symposia as valuable resources produced from this effort.
Tenley Dalstrom, Director of the CalTestBed program, spoke in support of the extension stating that the implementation team has “expanded the number of lab facilities available from 28 at the program’s inception to 73 at present. The program is providing significant benefits for our voucher recipient companies, California ratepayers, and is contributing to the state’s goals of furthering a just transition to a clean energy economy.”
Randi Jenkins, speaking on behalf of UCOP and the participating UC campuses, stated that CalTestBed is “accelerating some of California’s most promising early-stage clean energy technologies on the pathway to successful commercialization” in addition to “optimizing the efficient use of sought-after equipment and specialized facilities at our campuses” and “providing opportunities to graduate students to gain practical testing experience and interface with flourishing entrepreneurs.”
This illustrates the “win-win” outcome of this public-private partnership: the largest public university system in the world advancing the goals of the leading state agency in climate change mitigation while promoting individual small businesses and simultaneously providing training and education to the future workforce.
Alecia Ward, a representative of Berkeley Lab, noted that the team that developed and implemented the CalTestBed Program received the 2021 Outstanding Partnership Award from the Far West Region of the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer (FLC). She concluded her remarks by saying “CalTestBed, and the CEC’s leadership in building out this clean energy ecosystem, advances federal clean energy goals and Berkeley Lab supports the full cost extension of the program.”
The CalTestBed Initiative has garnered both national and international attention for its effectiveness, structure, and intention of accelerating clean energy innovations to the marketplace while maximizing the environmental, economic, and social impacts for communities throughout the state.
Applications are currently open until 19 August for CalTestBed’s third cohort. Information and the application link can be found at www.calstestbed.com
Tristan Tremschnig, Communications Director, New Energy Nexus, firstname.lastname@example.org ph: +1 562 844 5999