DiMasi Proposes $50 Million Program to Jumpstart Clean Energy Startups in Massachusetts; Renewable Energy Fund Would Be Slashed
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Initiative, employers in the state will first be surveyed to find out what kinds of energy-related positions are going unfilled. Then the program would assist public and private universities and colleges, including community colleges and vocational-technology schools, to develop the new curricula and degree or certificate programs needed to produce qualified workers. “It could be things like teaching workers how to deploy photovoltaics, or weatherize buildings, or engage in fermentation research for cellulosic biofuel companies, or maintain wind turbines,” d’Arbeloff explains. “The goal is not to give educational institutions every dollar they need to teach students, but to ensure that the curricula get developed.”
Compared to Governor Patrick’s $1 billion life sciences investment package, $50 million for a Clean Energy Center may not sound like much money. But Peter Rothstein, an executive-in-residence at Flagship Ventures who is co-chairing NECEC’s seed grant program committee with Andrews, says the program doesn’t have to be huge to make a difference. “We are not trying to solve everything at once here,” says Rothstein. “We are trying to address some of the biggest opportunities and gaps and needs, so that we can have a vibrant, growing clean energy cluster, starting with the early stages of technology-based innovation, where we think we can have the biggest bang for the buck.”
And since only Massachusetts entrepreneurs will be eligible for the center’s grants and fellowships, that bang should be felt right here. “There is a frightening amount of Massachusetts capital that flows out of our borders for lack of appropriate ventures here at home,” d’Arbeloff says. “I think that both the seed grant program and the fellowship program will go a long way toward ensuring that there is a very large farm team of young clean energy ventures created here in Massachusetts that can absorb that capital and keep it within the commonwealth.”
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