The University of California Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering Winston Chung Global Energy Center (WCGEC) and Southern California Research Initiative for Solar Energy (SC-RISE) has received a grant to create a center to guide entrepreneurs, develop and implement a network of sustainability companies, agencies and resources, and provide validation and assessment of innovative technologies and ideas.
The goal is that the initial $95,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration will lead to future funding that will allow WCGEC and SC-RISE to hire staff to operate the center, said Sadrul Ula, co- director of the WCGEC, who will compile the feasibility report.
“The idea is to provide a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs to pursue their ideas and dreams,” Ula said.
The principal investigator, Nosang V. Myung, a professor and the department chair of chemical and environmental engineering, will be assisted by Ula and Alfredo Martinez-Morales, managing director of SC-RISE, to perform the feasibility study.
The Riverside County Economic Development Agency helped secure the grant and is a key partner in the project. The proposed center aligns with the Riverside County Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS), a federally approved plan created by the county which calls for collaborations between UC Riverside and industry to develop technologies in solar energy, wind power and renewable fuels.
“Our goal is to take advantage of the intellectual capital at UCR and create opportunities for commercialization of technology through a synergy between industry and entrepreneurs,” said Rob Moran, the economic development manager with Riverside County EDA.
The idea for the center came because researchers at WCGEC and SC-RISE receive inquiries from entrepreneurs and innovators, particularly in the fields of renewable energy and energy efficiency, looking for help testing a product or getting it to market, Ula said.
The feasibility study, which is scheduled to be complete in a year, will determine how to design a resource center that can support the development of a sustainability enterprise and industry in the Inland Empire region.
To do this, the center will inventory existing resources, establish a consultative board, and perform technology assessment and mentoring for several companies to understand their needs and how a center could support entrepreneurship in renewable energy and other sustainability technologies.
The feasibility study also involves MBA students from UC Riverside’s School of Business Administration. They will provide market analysis, economic impact analysis, supply chain analysis, land use analysis and business plans. The technology validation and assessment services will be performed at the Bourns College of Engineering Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT).
The center will also coordinate with Cal State San Bernardino, College of the Desert and other community colleges and high schools in the region for workforce development programs. The center will be a clearinghouse of information for hands-on trade skill courses.