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Apply Now for New York State and Skidmore College Clean-Energy Entrepreneur Program

Kit Kennedy

Posted June 26, 2014 in Green Enterprise, Solving Global Warming

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Calling all New York state entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs, too:

New York State wants you to set up clean energy businesses right here in the Empire State. And to help you do that, through the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA), it has funded its first-ever New York Executive Clean Energy Leadership Program (NY EXCEL), scheduled to take place this summer. Part of NYSERDA’s larger push to help create and promote cleantech and energy-efficiency businesses here in the Empire State, NY EXCEL is a training program, based at environmentally-friendly Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs. Not only does it offer 30 hours of classroom instruction, the program’s got great perks, like networking opportunities with cleantech leaders, meetings with scientists and venture capitalists, and visits to some the state’s impressive array of research institutions. (The program costs about $6,000, with financial aid available. And the quick, online application is due June 30th. So get moving.) 

“NY EXCEL has three components,” explains Catherine Hill, the Skidmore management and business professor who’s developed and oversees the program. “Classroom instruction, intensive network building and one-on-one mentoring for a capstone project that is a plan to start a cleantech business in New York.” (No need to have a project already in mind when you start, by the way.) 

The program is open to a host of interested individuals: Executives or former executives looking to start new clean-energy businesses; returning veterans with significant leadership experience; small business owners; and, graduate students and undergrads with what the program terms “a demonstrated passion for entrepreneurship.”

In addition to classroom instruction at Skidmore during the week of August 3-9 on issues such as clean-energy incentives, financing models, and energy markets, there will be five weekend-long programs at places like Long Island’s (and the U.S. Department of Energy’s) Brookhaven National Laboratory, and the Syracuse Center of Excellence, two national leaders in energy and climate research. “The focus of the program is giving proven leaders the access to financial models, networks, investors and proven cleantech entrepreneurs and mentors to help them successfully start cleantech businesses,” Hill explains. Part of the process is the development of a business plan that participants will pitch to a panel of venture capitalists in January.

NY EXCEL isn’t NYSERDA’s first foray into clean energy entrepreneurship, not by a long shot. The agency funds a host of programs, including six cleantech incubators throughout the state and an entrepreneur-in-residence program that connects business execs and serial entrepreneurs with cleantech start-ups looking for guidance. Since 2011, more than 90 companies housed at NYSERDA incubators have leveraged more than $105 million in private capital, introduced 91 new cleantech products, and created and retained more than 700 jobs.

And why shouldn’t NY EXCEL jumpstart more? The state, after all, is blessed with all the components one needs for innovation: great research and academic institutions, a wealth of resources, and a lot of go-getters. Who knows which one of these businesses could go big, providing new jobs to New Yorkers who need them, and energy innovation to a state and a world hungry for power sources that don’t pollute?

Get your applications in now, all you would-be and actual entrepreneurs. At Skidmore, thanks to NYSERDA’s help, opportunity awaits!

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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