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Entrepreneurial Boot Camp Aims to Increase Cleantech Businesses

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Marguerite Pearson
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Entrepreneurial Boot Camp Aims to Increase Cleantech Businesses,

Create Well-Paying Jobs and Address Energy Challenges in New York State

August 2014 (Saratoga Springs, New York) — Entrepreneurs seeking to create cleantech businesses in New York State are attending the New York Executive Clean Energy Leadership Institute (NY EXCEL) this week, August 3-9, at Skidmore College. NY EXCEL is a boot camp program launched with the aim of growing New York’s clean-energy economy by immersing entrepreneurs in the training and networking necessary to developing cleantech business ventures in the state.

Clean technology – or “cleantech” – describes a wide range of businesses focused on increasing energy efficiency while reducing the impact on the environment. The ultimate goals of NY EXCEL, which is offered by Skidmore and supported by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), are to grow clean energy business in the state and create well-paying jobs in New York communities, which ultimately provide solutions for addressing long-term energy independence with clean sources.

NY EXCEL combines an intensive 50-hour classroom residency with one-on-one learning and structured opportunities for networking with New York’s clean-energy leaders, experts and policy-makers. Participants are learning about the markets, financial models, permitting requirements and other unique aspects of the cleantech industry that are key to turning ideas into viable businesses.

Mentoring is a critical component of the program and participants will remain connected to their mentors throughout the duration of the program, which continues through January of 2015.

“I can’t overstate how important it is to create your networks,” said program director Catherine Hill, Skidmore’s F. William Harder Professor of Business Administration in the opening session. “The clean energy community in New York State is unique in its willingness to help others. It is passionate about the environment and the deployment of new clean energy technologies.”

Program participants met last night with clean energy business and agency leaders at a reception jointly hosted by NY EXCEL, the Alliance for Clean Energy New York (ACE NY), and the Battery and Energy Storage Technology Consortium (NY-BEST). Speaking at the reception were Congressman Paul Tonko; John Rhodes, President and CEO, NYSERDA; William Acker, Executive Director, NY-BEST; and Anne Reynolds, Executive Director, ACE NY.

Experts from various cleantech sectors and state agencies will serve as both mentors and instructors.

Today, August 7 from 1:00-2:30 pm, Chris Covell, President of SmartWatt Energy, will speak on his experience in developing an energy efficiency company in New York State and growing it into a national company with over 250 employees. Covell’s “Energy Efficiency Bootcamp” will provide an overview of demand-side management reduction initiatives applicable in commercial, industrial and institutional facilities, while sharing real-world examples from his company.

The session takes place in the Somers Room of the Tang Teaching Museum on the Skidmore campus, located at 815 North Broadway, Saratoga Springs.

Covell commented, “The year-long mentorships offered as part of NY EXCEL are a huge opportunity for hopeful entrepreneurs. The energy-efficiency industry provides some unique challenges and the advice of experienced industry experts who are willing to share both their successes and failures can be invaluable.”

Following the boot camp, participants will attend five additional weekend destination programs and tour some of New York’s most significant cleantech assets, including the Syracuse Center of Excellence, Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island, NY-BEST, the battery and energy storage test center at Kodak Park in Rochester, and various cleantech assets in New York City, including the Solar Roofs program administered by CUNY. The program culminates in a capstone presentation weekend in January at Skidmore, at which students will present their business plan to venture capitalists.

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About the Mohawk River Watershed Coalition
The Mohawk River Watershed Coalition is comprised of 14 County Soil and Water Conservation Districts operating in the Mohawk River watershed. The Coalition supports conservation initiatives that protect, promote and enhance the natural resources of the Mohawk River Watershed in partnership with local, state and federal stakeholders. For more information, visit www.MohawkRiver.org.

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