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💸 NY's Most Successful Climate Incubator

My Climate Journey

Photo by Austin Distel / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Host: Jason Jacobs
Guest: Pat Sapinsley | Managing Director of Cleantech Initiatives | Urban Future Lab at NYU Tandon School of Engineering
Category: 💸 Funding

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[4:11] “The Urban Future Lab is the center of all things climate tech in New York. We are the longest running and most successful incubator in New York State. We're funded by NYSERDA, […] a New York State agency that promotes energy efficiency in the use of renewable energy.  […] So our mission is that we help companies with market-ready solutions to climate change to scale up. Our goal is to deploy these things widely. We don't have a lot of time, so we focus on those that have solutions. Ideation is for someone else. That takes more time than we have. We're a tiny little staff, and we want to be able to see the impact of what we do. So we ask that companies only come to us with top line revenue, some kind of market-ready.”

[5:45] “We work with companies all through the climate value chain, data, software, business model innovation, built environment, mobility, storage, distribution, controls, DER strategies, community solar, even community fuel cells. And we do less hard tech than some of our colleagues. […] We take no equity. We're a not-for-profit.”

[10:00] “NYSERDA came to us, and we invented something called the Carbon to Value Initiative that we're doing with our partners at Greentown Labs in Boston and the Fraunhofer Institute. We've also added 12 corporate supporters to that program. NYSERDA gave us the seed funding. We're getting additional funding from these corporates, and we have five big not-for-profits working on carbon removal also in the mix. So in a six-month program, these 10 companies get the talents of the corporates and the not-for-profits wrapped around them to help them in any way we can. And we're hoping […] to kickstart the carbon tech industry through this program.”

[19:04] “When the governor says something like, "We have to do a carbon program," our ears perk up and we figure out how to do a carbon program. When NYSERDA says, "We want to do a transportation program," we sit down with the people at C2SMART at NYU and say, "Maybe we should do a transportation program with you." So we're fairly opportunistic. And then we also do get money from outside corporates and we'll work on programs that are of interest to them.”

[21:19] “The smaller programs that are the six-month accelerators that we're doing with Greentown Labs. […] And they've developed a process called Greentown Launch, where they invite these corporates to support the program financially. And then together with them, we have designed a curriculum for Carbon to Value and for our hydrogen program where we design a curriculum. This is comprised of workshops that help these young companies to learn about things like IP, customer acquisition, making sure you've done enough work getting to know your customers and what they really want. […] And then in addition, we help them to work together with the corporates to figure out what's the best use of the corporate time.”

[24.22] “In the startup world in America, something like 90% of the businesses fail. Coming out of our incubator, 90% of the businesses are still up and running since 2009. […] And […] our companies have now raised […] 900 million. […] The other metric […] is that […] for every one dollar that NYSERDA has given us, our companies have raised 200 in the private market. So those are the metrics that I look at for success.”

[31:08] “In the EU [recently] passed a law that said greenhouse gas emissions, economy wide, […] have to drop 55% from the 2009 benchmark by 2030 and I think it's net zero economy by 2050. That's hard, but it's a great goal. We don't have anything like that on the federal level. We're back and forth on the café standards. We're back and forth on renewable portfolio standards. We're hoping all that'll happen.”

[48:57] “The other day, I had an interview with an administrative person who […] is going to come be our office manager. I said to her, so why do you want to come into climate change from what you've been doing? And she said, because I'm human. And I thought it was a great answer. But I think we need everyone from every sector to join us in this journey.”

Rating: ⚡⚡⚡

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify (Original Title: "Pat Sapinsley, Managing Director of Cleantech Initiatives at the Urban Future Lab at NYU Tandon")
🕰️ 50 min | 🗓️ 08/02/2021
✅ Time saved: 48 min

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