RSI Resource OpenSource List
Photo from Paul Wennberg’s Lab
Stage 1: Exploration
Charge Up! Workshop Series - about the basics:
- Technoeconomic Analysis: How to evaluate your technology (recording)
- Funding: When and how to seek Venture Capital (recording)
- IP: Patenting your Innovation (recording, slides 1, slides 2)
- Story Telling and Pitching: how to excite collaborators, partners, investors, the team with your science (recording, slides)
Caltech Entrepreneurship Club (e-Club): Fireside chats, panel discussions, links to accelerator programs and early investor groups: https://eclub.caltech.edu/
NSF I-CorpsTM: NSF I-Corps is a national program for scientists and engineers starting companies to learn about identifying customers and discovering markets for their innovations. NSF offers participants a stipend of $50,000 along with intensive instruction from experts guiding their discoveries. Statistics show that I-Corps improves applicants chances of winning SBIR grants, from 10% to 40%. https://beta.nsf.gov/funding/initiatives/i-corps
NSF ZAP/BOOM: The Office of Technology Transfer and Corporate Partnerships and the Resnick Sustainability Institute jointly oversee ZAP on campus as an entry point for the national NSF I-Corps program. For information on how to apply: https://icorpshubwest.org/
Lean Launchpad: Pioneered by Stanford's Steve Blank, the approach involves getting outside the lab and interviewing customers to identify a problem they need your technology/product to solve. View a 2-minute video on creating the core tool – the Business Model Canvas: http://www.businessmodelgeneration.com/canvas/bmc.
Steve Blanks' Udacity University: The website provides a lot of useful information – see http://steveblank.com/category/lean-launchpad/ for background and blog posts on the Lean LaunchPad method and classes. Free online course: https://www.udacity.com/course/how-to-build-a-startup--ep245 Steve Blank teaching videos: two-minute scenarios illustrating essential points of lean launchpad: https://steveblank.com/slides/
Here are a few key videos on first steps:
- Getting started:
- Pre-Planning Contacts
- Customer Interview Dry Runs
- Outside the Building
- Death by Demo 1
- Death by Demo 2
- Assuming You Know
- Death by PowerPoint
Understanding the Problem & Back in the Building
- Extracting Insight from Data
- Getting the MVP Right
- Pay Attention to Outliers
- The "Other 85%
Some Suggested Reading:
Steve Blank: The Startup Owner's Manual – a step by step guide to building your company on lean launchpad principles, a reliable resource for entrepreneurs at all levels.
Thinking in Bets: Annie Duke - Annie Duke, a former World Series of Poker champion, draws on business, sports, politics, and (of course) poker to share tools anyone can use to embrace uncertainty and make better decisions. By shifting your thinking from a need for certainty to accurately assessing what you do and don't know, you'll become less vulnerable to reactive emotions, knee-jerk biases, and destructive habits in your decision making – essential for becoming a successful entrepreneur.
Founder Blogs and Other Information Sources About Getting Started:
25 Lessons Learned: https://25-lessons.idealab.com/all-25-lessons-and-summary-by-bill-gross/ Bill Gross is a Caltech alum and successful entrepreneur and founder of Pasadena-based Idealab. A recent Idealab company, Energy Vault has raised over $100m in investments. Bill reveals lessons he's learned along the entrepreneurial pathway. In the last 40 years, he has started more than 100 companies, resulting in more than 45 successful IPOs and acquisitions, including Overture, eToys, CarsDirect, Cooking.com, CitySearch, Picasa, and Evolution Robotics.
Both Sides of the Table: https://bothsidesofthetable.com/ Mark Suster is an experienced entrepreneur and investor, residing in Los Angeles, who tries to demystify the world of investment with practical advice.
Mass Challenge: https://masschallenge.org/articles/startup-blogs/ recommended blogs
MIT Technology Review: The Download – daily updates on technologies, issues and trends https://forms.technologyreview.com/newsletters/briefing-the-download/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI_bzk96es_AIVDy6tBh0eaAl4EAAYASACEgJcJPD_BwE
Y Combinator: A seed accelerator founded in 2005, Y Combinator is widely respected and influential, with stakes in over 1,000 companies including Dropbox, Reddit, Stripe and Docker. Its blog contains short and clear pieces on the fundamentals of launching a startup. Y Combinator Startup School - Fundraising: https://www.ycombinator.com/library?categories=Fundraising Reading: The YC Seed Deck Template; Advice for First Time Founders
How I Built This: https://www.npr.org/series/490248027/how-i-built-this Good blog where founders talk about their personal journeys setting up successful startups. The conversation dives deeply into the twists and turns as well as setbacks and surprise discoveries that directed the development of the company
LBNL's Energy Technologies Area Newsletter: https://eta.lbl.gov/news/technoeconomic-analysis-low-carbon Launched in April 2023, the newsletter features LBNL reviews and reports covering LBNL advances across a range of topics: High temperature energy storage; Infinitely recyclable plastics; Removing CO2 from air; Hydrogen Production & Storage; Biofuels & Bioproducts. Its practical approach offers useful tools for startup projects in emerging areas. One recent example is developing a computational approach for evaluating sorbent materials for hydrogen storage applications
Photo from Rocket Fund website
Stage 2: Getting Started
- RSI's Ideation Grant: a grant program offered by the Resnick Sustainability Institute for graduate students, faculty and postdoc researchers to explore the potential of their technology in a more applied direction. Visit the RSI Entrepreneurship page.
- RSI Charge UP!: a series of seminars and fireside chats on important topics for the first time entrepreneur. Visit the RSI Entrepreneurship page.
- Office of Technology Transfer & Corporate Partnerships: https://ottcp.caltech.edu/
- OTTCP's New Venture Creation & Entrepreneurship: https://ottcp.caltech.edu/new-ventures
- OTTCP's Entrepreneurs-in-Residence: for Physical Sciences Julie Schoenfeld firstname.lastname@example.org; for Life Sciences: Jay Chiang email@example.com
- The OTTCP's Gates Grubstake Fund: https://ottcp.caltech.edu/new-ventures/gates-grubstake-fund
- Caltech's Seed Fund: https://ottcp.caltech.edu/new-ventures/the-caltech-seed-fund
- Rothenberg Innovation Initiative (RI2): https://innovation.caltech.edu/new-ventures/rothenberg-innovation-initiative-ri2
- Caltech Innovation Center: incubator facilities. Contact Maral Gharib. Director of the Caltech Innovation Center. firstname.lastname@example.org. 626-395-3935. Caltech Hall (32). MC 6-32. Caltech Torch.
- Caltech Central Listing of Funding Opportunities: https://fundingopportunities.caltech.edu/
Entrepreneurs should do their own due diligence and interviews to determine which law firm is best suited for their needs and budget. Firms specializing in IP should have deep technical expertise to help evaluate your strategy. Firms covering general corporate matters, including company formation, should be willing to invest some hours upfront in forming a potentially long-term relationship. Here are some firms that have worked with Caltech startups. For a more extensive list please contact Stephanie Yanchinski, Director of Entrepreneurial Programs, email@example.com.
- Alston & Bird (General Corporate): https://www.alston.com/en/
- KPPB (IP): https://www.kppb.com/
- Novus GC (General Corporate): https://www.novusgc.com/
- Strategic Law Group (General Corporate): https://www.strategiclaw.com/
Applied R&D Fellowships and Bootcamps:
- Activate: https://www.activate.org/berkeley
- Breakthrough Energy Fellowships: https://breakthroughenergy.org/our-work/fellows/
- Berkeley Haas Business School Cleantech 2 Market (C2M): https://haas.berkeley.edu/c2m/for-startups/ C2M will work with teams developing projects that are very early on in commercialization. Caltech students are welcome to apply.
- Cleantech Open: https://www.cleantechopen.org/
Incubators/Accelerators: a source of free virtual events and practical workshops; an excellent place to discover entrepreneurship; some provide tech development and early investment.
- ACTIVATE: for Cyclotron Road/LBNL, https://www.activate.org/mission
- Blue Tech Valley: http://bluetechvalley.org/
- Creative Destruction Lab https://www.ualberta.ca/business/programs/mba/academics/experiential-learning/creative-destruction-lab/index.html - Canadian accelerator focusing on cleantech, but for more mature startups beyond the initial launch phase.
- Elemental Excelerator: https://elementalexcelerator.com/
- Idealab: https://www.idealab.com/
- Frontier Climate: https://frontierclimate.com/
- Frontier Venture Capital: https://frontiervc.com/
- Greentown Labs: https://greentownlabs.com/ (Boston, Houston)
- Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator: https://laincubator.org/
- Plug and Play: https://www.plugandplaytechcenter.com/.
- Powerhouse: https://www.powerhouse.fund/
- SCEIN: https://energycenter.org/program/san-diego-regional-energy-innovation-network
- TechStars: https://techstars.com
- Third Derivative: https://www.third-derivative.org/
- Urban Future Lab (New York): http://ufl.nyc/
- USGBC-LA: https://usgbc-la.org/
- Y Combinator : https://www.ycombinator.com/
Government Lab Accelerator Programs: there are 17 DOE national labs pursuing energy research and some provide early support for university startups. Note that DOE labs issue an annual call for internships for graduate students e.g., ARPA-E.
- Argonne National Lab: Chain Reaction Innovation: https://chainreaction.anl.gov/
- ARPA-E: https://arpa-e.energy.gov/
- NREL: Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center https://www.nrel.gov/innovate/index.html manages a number of innovation support programs including the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator (IN2), the Shell Gamechanger Accelerator™ Powered by NREL (GCxN), the Clean Energy Cybersecurity Accelerator (CECA), Chevron Studio, Energy I-Corps, and West Gate.
- Oak Ridge National Lab: Innovation Crossroads: https://innovationcrossroads.ornl.gov/
- Pacific Northwest National Laboratory: https://www.pnnl.gov/
Photo from rocket fund newsletter, Jan 2023
Stage 3: Real World
Pitch Programs: source of recognition and "free" money
- Carbon X Prize: https://www.xprize.org/prizes/carbon
- Clean Energy Trust & business plan competition: http://cleanenergytrust.org/
- Rice University Business Plan Competition: https://rbpc.rice.edu/
- MIT ClimateTech and Energy Prize: http://cep.mit.edu/
- Made in America: In 2023 there are over 56 challenges opening for applications or currently in progress offering total (non-equity!) prize money from a few $1,000's to $15m. Information: https://americanmadechallenges.org/challenges/
- NREL hosts the annual Industry Growth Forum where young companies pitch to over 140 investors. https://www.nrelforum.com/event/6e4cebc6-445e-4f56-aa63-d1bc6d79943a/websitePage:6df97924-a410-4d6e-b639-86a8bcd6f520
Stage 4: Serious Funding
To stay up to date, join Federal and California State agency listserves for new Funding Opportunity Announcements or Grant Funding Opportunities respectively. Note the variability in grant timelines and that most take considerable time to assemble partners, prepare the budget, and secure supporting documents to apply.
- Rocket Fund: source of non-equity grants for building prototypes https://rocketfund.caltech.edu/
- ARPA-E: https://arpa-e.energy.gov/about/apply-for-funding
- Department of Energy: https://www.energy.gov/funding-financing
- Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE): https://www.energy.gov/eere/funding/eere-funding-opportunities
- Department of Defense: https://www.grants.gov/learn-grants/grant-making-agencies/department-of-defense.htm l
- National Science Foundation: America's Seed Fund: https://seedfund.nsf.gov/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=psc&utm_term=keyword&utm_content=technology
- Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I & II, Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grants: 11 and 8 federal agencies offer SBIR, and STTR grants to help early stage companies advance their inventions toward commercialization; For general information : https://www.sbir.gov/about
- California Energy Commission's EPIC: General Info and listservs: https://www.energy.ca.gov/programs-and-topics/programs/electric-program-investment-charge-epic-program
- CalSEED: https://calseed.fund/
- CalNEXT: https://calnext.com/
- CalTestBed: https://www.caltestbed.com/
- CEC/EPIC: BRIDGE (2020) This program periodically releases solicitations. https://www.energy.ca.gov/solicitations/2020-07/gfo-20-301-bringing-rapid-innovation-development-green-energy-bridge-2020
- CEC/EPIC: RAMP: This program periodically releases solicitations. https://www.empowerinnovation.net/en/custom/funding/view/30245 : https://www.energy.ca.gov/solicitations/2022-04/gfo-21-304-realizing-accelerated-manufacturing-and-production-clean-energy
- California Energy Commission: Direct Grant Funding Opportunities: https://www.energy.ca.gov/funding-opportunities/solicitations
- Partnerships on Grants: e.g. The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) https://www.epri.com/ , an internationally recognized research association serving the electric power industry, partners with selected Rocket Fund companies as the lead, on $1m+ grants from the state supported California Energy Commission/EPIC programs.
Private Industry Initiatives:
- Electric Power Research Institute's (EPRI) Incubatenergy: https://labs.incubatenergy.org/
- Gas Technology Institute: Rev Innovations https://www.revinnovations.com/https://www.gti.energy/
- Halliburton Labs https://halliburtonlabs.com/
- Southern California Edison: CalNEXT https://calnext.com/ A team of experts will provide resources and support the implementation of 170 projects that have the potential to make a significant impact, and help California reach its decarbonization goals.
Private Sector Voucher Programs: Companies receive vouchers that are exchanged for technical expertise and technical support at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Caltech's Rocket Fund has a dedicated Channel Partnership with each of these programs.
- IN2 Wells Fargo: https://in2ecosystem.com/
- Shell Gamechanger (GCxN): https://gcxnrel.com/
- Chevron Studio: https://www.chevronstudio.com/
Venture Capital: (for companies with established technology, identified markets and customers, and ready to demonstrate and scale up). Some notable Climate and Sustainability investors linked to Caltech and the Resnick Sustainability Institute:
- Angeleno Group: http://www.angelenogroup.com/
- Aramco Ventures: https://aramcoventures.com/
- Baruch Future Ventures: https://www.baruch.vc/
- Congruent Ventures: https://congruentvc.com/
- Energy Foundry: https://www.energyfoundry.com/
- Equinor Ventures: https://www.equinor.com/energy/ventures
- freeflow: https://www.freeflow.io/
- Future Planet Capital: https://futureplanetcapital.com/ (UK based)
- Frontier Venture Capital: https://frontiervc.com/
- HAX: https://hax.co/
- Hitachi Ventures: https://www.hitachi-ventures.com/
- Lowercarbon Capital: https://lowercarboncapital.com/
- Prelude Ventures: https://www.preludeventures.com/
- Prime Movers Lab: https://www.primemoverslab.com/
- SOSV: https://sosv.com/
- Stripe: https://stripe.com/: financial services company focusing on carbon credits
- Third Derivative: https://www.third-derivative.org/
- Unusual Ventures: https://www.unusual.vc/
- Wilson Hill VC: https://www.wilsonhillvc.com/
Reading about Entrepreneurial and Investor Action:
- Pitchbook: https://pitchbook.com/ Expensive but authoritative and thorough
- Crunchbase: https://www.crunchbase.com/ Affordable packages for individuals.
- Techcrunch: https://techcrunch.com/: Tracks the tech industry and includes cleantech.
- Canary Media: https://www.canarymedia.com/ A free newsletter tracking the ways businesses, policymakers, investors and communities are moving toward a clean and equitable energy future.
- Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/ has a range of subscription plans with an affordable option providing access to HRB case studies and best selling articles. Good for learning about leadership.
This list is constantly changing to reflect the rapid evolution of cleantech and sustainability in the real world. We welcome your suggestions for inclusion!
The Office of Entrepreneurial Programs, Resnick Sustainability Institute
Contact: Stephanie Yanchinski