The intent of the grant funding is to encourage industry leaders to find innovative methods designed to meet the needs of businesses to not only fill immediate employment needs, but also for the development of a partnership and infrastructure flexible enough to support employment growth for up to 10 years.Applicants had 20 days to file a 10 page proposal in one of five areas: renewable energy, energy efficiency, alternative/renewable vehicle (and fuels), energy storage and water efficiency.
Successful applicants will have business-led partnerships, which may include entities in higher education, workforce development, economic development, employee and scientific associations, along with venture capital entities or other organizations important to making the technology successful in the short and long term.
On June 29 — less than six weeks after the announcement — the state announced six winners totaling $19 million, of which three are from the Bay Area. The winners were:
- SolarTech Workforce Innovations Collaborative (Sunnyvale): $4 million for renewable energy, with an emphasis on PV and solar thermal
- Northern Rural Training and Employment Consortium (Chico): $3.5 million for renewable energy in covering 11 counties
- San Jose/Evergreen Community College: $2 million to train workers to build new energy efficient home
- San Diego Biofuels Initiative: $4 million for biofuels based both on crops and algae
- San Mateo Community College: $3 million for EV/hybrid maintenance at three community colleges in the SF and LA areas
- Los Angeles Valley College: $2.5 million to both survey existing water usage and develop best practices for water efficiency
While the requirements of the CFP emphasized a role for community colleges, four of the six approved proposals also include university partners. All four are using campuses of the 23-campus California State University system: Chico State (NoRTEC), San José State (SolarTech), CSU East Bay (San José energy efficiency) and San Diego State (San Diego Biofuels). More significantly, UCSD and its San Diego Center for Algae Biotechnology is playing a leading role in the biofuels project. (I visited with the SD-CAB director on Thursday and hope to post more later).
If the other universities are like us, a major goal is to create a permanent, self-sustaining change in the curriculum that extends beyond the grant period. The San José State portion of the SolarTech project involves both the business and engineering schools, and (we hope) can serve as a model for other CSU campuses. We’ve started a blog to post news about our own efforts, the SolarTech-led project, and the overall Green Innovation Challenge. Look there for further updates.