The newly established Cleantech Fellows Institute (CFI) is enhancing the way advanced cleantech startups are launched through an intensive program that will train business executives to lead successful, venture-backed clean energy companies. Applications to this "talent accelerating" program are currently being accepted from executives who are looking to apply their business sense to cleantech. The executives selected to participate will be immersed in learning all facets of managing a clean energy company. The curriculum will position them to network with investors, quickly learn the details of clean energy research and industry regulations, and learn to apply best industry practices to creating marketable and backable companies. Notable institutions in the area will host the executives while they seek to understand market-ready technologies and create a business plan for their possible launch in 2013.
Please explain the program and why you feel there is an industry need for it?
The program addresses the need for experienced, successful cleantech executives to maximize the many technological and business opportunities available in clean technology. And, because cleantech companies can face significant difficulty in getting to market, the need for very seasoned executives is heightened. Regulatory issues, monopoly incumbents, extremely old entrenched technologies, high capital intensity and the need for tested products that can last 20 or 30 years in the field create high barriers to success in this industry. By attracting successful executives from other "difficult" industries we believe we can facilitate the creation of venture-backable clean technology companies.
Who is providing the primary funding for the Cleantech Fellows Institute?
Primary funding is coming from the Advanced Energy Economy Institute, corporate sponsorships and the Fellows in the form of tuition. Additionally, the Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the Colorado Cleantech Industry Association are providing both in-kind and financial support.
It’s great that you have the support from a national laboratory for this project. What exactly will NREL’s role be?
NREL is going to be an amazing resource to our Institute. The lab has committed to providing Fellows with access to its nationally and internationally recognized researchers in the cleantech domains. These experts will provide instruction as well as information on the cutting-edge, market-ready technologies that will most interest class participants. NREL will also make the laboratory-developed technologies available to the Fellows to underpin their capstone projects and eventually lead to new cleantech businesses.
Has this program been carried out in other parts of the country? What makes the Cleantech Fellows Institute different from similar programs?
A prior program was developed by the New England Clean Energy Council (NECEC) and was quite successful, but the program focused primarily on executives in the Boston area. Our Cleantech Fellows Institute is national in scope and focus while located in Colorado. This is the only cleantech program out there focused on accelerating senior-level talent into the industry.
When is the application deadline and how many applications are you hoping to receive?
The application deadline in July 6th and we are looking for an entering class of 12-15.
Who will be involved in the selection process and how will they go about making their final decision?
A committee of partners (venture capitalists, strategics and sponsors) will make up the admissions committee. A thorough review of the candidates will yield a pool to interview. Admissions will be based on the qualifications of the candidates, in particular, their experience building companies, raising funds and reaching successful exits.
What do you hope the executives will achieve from participating in the Cleantech Fellows Institute?
We expect the Fellows to graduate with all the tools necessary to form a successful, venture-backable company.
What will make the Cleantech Fellows Institute a success in the end?
The quality of the Fellows themselves will determine the overall success of the program. Ultimately, if we can connect the Fellows to commercial-ready technology from Colorado labs, and if we are able to arm the Fellows with the market knowledge they need to begin formation of companies based on these lab technologies, then the program is a success. Additionally, through our efforts in developing the Cleantech Fellows Institute, we will have brought together a world class team of partners and sponsors to help ensure the Fellow's success.
Wayne is currently the Director of the Cleantech Fellows Institute. Wayne is a serial entrepreneur and angel investor with more than 12 years’ experience in energy and clean technology. Most recently, he was the CEO of Architectural Energy Corporation, a company focused on building energy efficiency services and products. Prior to AEC, he was the CEO of WellDog, a venture- backed company engaged in the production and delivery of data to enhance the profitability of coal bed methane extraction. He has been an advisor to EnerTech Capital since 1998 and has served in a variety of roles including directorships and interim management for several EnerTech portfolio companies. Wayne is the former president of Financial Times Energy, a division of the Financial Times Group of London and a national publishing, consulting and research firm specializing in energy markets and utility industry deregulation. He was also president of E Source, a start-up information firm serving the energy marketplace. At E Source, he helped grow the company to be listed on Inc Magazines Inc 500 list of fastest growing companies in America. He served as president of Shepards, the legal publishing arm of the McGraw-Hill Companies. Wayne also held various management positions at LEXIS/NEXIS, the world’s largest provider of on-line professional information. He received a Bachelor of Arts in public communications from Boston University, and he earned a Juris Doctor and a Master of Business Administration from Tulane University, where he also served as associate dean at the law school.