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2022 Grants Challenge
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🎉 Runner Up

LA Cleantech Incubator Equity Innovation Program

The Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI)’s Equity Innovation Program (EIP) is a strategic, additive layer of support for underrepresented cleantech entrepreneurs within LACI’s small business incubation and acceleration programs. EIP offers cleantech founders access to targeted coaching and curriculum, pilot funding, and technical guidance to help secure financing, expand their network, or scale their startups, so they can help the City of Los Angeles achieve its ambitious climate goals by the year 2050.

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What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

BIPOC- and Women-Owned Businesses

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

City of Los Angeles

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

Within the cleantech sector, entrepreneurs who are women; Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC), often face barriers accessing capital, networking, and developing and piloting prototypes that their white, often male, counterparts do not. During the pandemic, these entrepreneurs were disproportionately impacted by Covid-19 challenges and setbacks. In order to meet LA regional climate goals, LACI is providing additional support to underrepresented entrepreneurs who seek to combat climate change and protect the environment for all Angelinos. Kameale C. Terry, a founder of ChargerHelp!, a LACI startup that repairs electric vehicle charging stations to ensure reliable access to EV charging, said in a Reuters article that LACI was key to securing a $2.75-million investment. “As a startup with two black female founders, it’s been critical to have LACI help guide us, mentor us, and help find investors.” Companies like ChargerHelp! are a model for LACI’s Equity Innovation Program.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

LACI’s Equity Innovation Program is unique because it directly impacts women and underrepresented founders in Los Angeles by improving access to knowledge and tools that will help accelerate the road to commercialization of clean technologies, and with more funding, EIP founders can go further, faster. In partnership with LA2050, we see an exciting opportunity to provide additional pilot funding to our EIP startups in order to create solutions for the Los Angeles community and scale their businesses. LACI pilots are prototype deployments of clean technologies and businesses that bring the benefits of the green economy to the City of Los Angeles. Lessons from these pilot projects are widely shared and used to inform new projects and policy recommendations within the Southern California region. In order to provide proof of concept for clean technology solutions, LACI executes cleantech pilots in collaboration with our startups. For example, community-based organization Pacoima Beautiful, LACI startup Envoy, and Nissan launched the Pacoima Electro-Share community EV car-share program which provided direct and affordable access to EVs that were powered by a resilient charging solution using off-grid technology. Additionally, Envoy, and Nissan launched the Rancho San Pedro Electric Car Share. This pilot is providing a zero emission transportation option to the members of the affordable housing community, helping residents to connect to the City of Los Angeles more easily.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

LACI envisions a future where the City of Los Angeles and its people flourish. If our work is successful, Los Angeles will become a thriving metropolis with zero emissions transportation, clean air, high paying green jobs, and a circular economy that supports generations of Angelinos to come. The LA2050 grant will bridge persistent opportunity gaps and deliver additional support to underserved entrepreneurs by directly funding innovative cleantech pilots for our Equity Innovation Program. In the short term, EIP aims to achieve measurable success: more capital raised, cleantech pilots deployed, green jobs created, and positive environmental, economic and social impact created for communities. Our long term vision is to prioritize, strengthen, and incentivize innovation ecosystems for Los Angeles’ diverse entrepreneurs who are championing scalable solutions to climate change and who seek to achieve the ambitious regional sustainability goals of the Los Angeles Green New Deal (pLAn).

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

LACI’s Equity Innovation Program aims to help level the playing field for historically underserved and underrepresented founders, who often encounter additional barriers to success when compared to their white, male counterparts. Once invited into one of our Incubation Programs, any female, BIPOC or otherwise underrepresented participants can apply to access: 1) increased funding for clean technology pilots in partnership with frontline communities; 2) additional 1:1 coaching and support services; and 3) increased access to funding to scale their startups and grow their businesses. We measure the impact of EIP by our ability to support our startups to raise the same amount of capital as their white male peers within the cleantech sector. We define success as the creation of more living wage jobs with a focus on hiring un/underemployed people from local disadvantaged communities, access to additional capital, credit and funding, and increased revenue generation.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 60

Indirect Impact: 3,973,000