Cortney's headshotBy Cortney Piper, Executive Director 

I get really excited when people and organizations find new ways of addressing old or persistent issues in the advanced energy sector. Whether that’s developing innovative technology or finding creative ways to fund cleantech startups, ensuring advanced energy equals high-quality jobs and long-lasting economic development in our state necessitates innovative thinking.

This month, the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) launched the nationwide LACI Cleantech Debt Fund, a first-of-its-kind green loan program to scale early-stage cleantech startups and accelerate equitable climate action. LACI’s $6 million fund will provide loans ranging from $25,000 to $250,000 to around 100 early-stage startups over the next five years, focusing on helping historically underrepresented founders. The fund will provide non-dilutive capital to female founders and founders of color as one way to help overcome the institutional and historical barriers they may face when seeking capital to scale their businesses.

In the announcement, LACI CEO Matt Petersen said this fund provides cleantech founders with a “timely, affordable alternative to expensive venture capital and slow-moving bank debt” and reduces “barriers to capital for underserved founders from historically underrepresented communities” where “too many founders cannot access traditional bank financing as they lack adequate personal assets or the personal networks needed to secure early-stage investment.”

The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council first began working with LACI as part of the Transportation Electrification Partnership due to our similar missions of supporting advanced energy innovation. Since that time, we have hosted a webinar to highlight the benefits of transportation electrification and signed on to a $150 billion stimulus proposal to advocate for more jobs and investment in the electric vehicle industry in 2021. Most recently, LACI organized a National Coalition of Clean Energy Incubators to participate in National Cleantech Innovation Advocacy Day in Washington D.C., where we met with Members of Congress and Senators to discuss additional support for cleantech innovation. TAEBC is part of this coalition.

If we want to continue championing advanced energy as a job creation and economic development strategy in our state, valued partnerships like ours with LACI and forward-thinking funds like the LACI Cleantech Debt Fund will be key.

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