2020 KEY INITIATIVES

Background

 

Last fall, Ascent Virginia (AVI) convened a Clean Energy and Technology Roundtable in

Arlington, VA. The goal was to brainstorm ideas on how Virginia could position itself as a clean

technology leader and build a robust private and public sector cleantech ecosystem that creates

sustainable jobs and positively impacts economic growth across our Commonwealth. To this end, we

gathered industry leaders, policy makers, community groups, and financiers. Out of this session

emerged among others, three main initiatives that AVI will collaborate on.

1. Establish Virginia as a Clean Tech and Renewable Energy Supply Chain Player

Under this initiative, we will identify one or two key technologies that play to Virginia’s advantage (e.g.,

batteries, off-shore wind component assembly). If successfully implemented, this could spur economic

development and job creation in R&D, manufacturing, assembly, procurement, logistics, sales, and

customer service. VA already has a rich manufacturing and logistics eco-system in Southwest VA (SWVA)

that previously supported a technology-heavy mining industry. Existing industrial facilities may be able

to adapt and pivot towards supporting batteries and the solar supply chain. How would that compare to

attracting a completely new company such as Tesla? Could existing players complement a new market

entrant? AVI will probe these and many other questions. In fact, AVI has already started conversations

with key stakeholders in Southwest VA to explore this idea and drafted up a one-page blueprint for

engagement.

2. Build a Cleantech Consortium

The goal of the consortium would be to expand the cleantech and renewable energy footprint, advocate

for its members and support cleantech entrepreneurs by providing a "peer" group to support and

mentor member companies. The genesis of this idea came from the Charlottesville Renewable Energy

Alliance or CvilleREA, which Rich Allevi from Sun Tribe Solar helped establish and is actively involved in.

AVI will identify and analyze similar initiatives that may exist across the Commonwealth. How successful

have various efforts been and what can we learn from them? Are there benefits to a more coordinated

effort? Can the CvilleREA concept be leveraged statewide?

3. Establish a Public-Private Cleantech Investment Fund

AVI recognizes the crucial role financing can play to create and sustain viable businesses. This is

particularly true for early stage financing or implementing renewable installations. Under this initiative,

AVI will work with investment fund experts to evaluate the role of two distinct funding sources: (1)

Public / private funding and (2) Private funding. The first would support opportunity zone investments

and potentially champion creating a cleantech fund along the lines of Boston’s public biotech

investment fund created in 2003, paving the path for Boston becoming a leader in that space. The

second funding source, derived solely from private money, will leverage existing sources such as

Dominion’s Innovation Fund and Capital One’s Future Edge Program, among others.

Copyright © 2018 Ascent Virginia

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