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Launching Green Entrepreneurship in New Hampshire

June 18, 2010 - 12:18pm

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This summer, five green companies in New Hampshire are participating in an intensive business accelerator initiative called the Green Launching Pad (GLP).

Created by the University of New Hampshire (UNH) and the New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning (NHOEP), the program offers funding and expertise to help create and grow environmentally-oriented companies.

The five companies participating in GLP are getting help on intellectual property, tax credits, market analysis and business planning.  By providing innovators, entrepreneurs and businesses with the opportunity to meet with interdisciplinary teams of faculty and students from across the state, the GLP aims to boost the state’s energy economy, create jobs and reduce energy use and carbon emissions.

To fund the project, the NHOEP is using $750,000 of a $25,827,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s State Energy Program (SEP) and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The funding will support GLP for two years.

"We are really excited about this program and the Recovery Act opportunities in general," says Laura Richardson, the ARRA coordinator for State Energy Program in the NHOEP. "It’s very interesting to see the projects that surface when the opportunities arise."

Launching the pad

The idea for GLP was sparked in part by UNH professors Ross Gittell and George Hurtt, after they successfully brought their entrepreneurship and global biological change courses together for a class session for a discussion on green entrepreneurship.

The University of New Hampshire faculty subsequently partnered with NHOEP and organized a leadership team that also included industry and community experts.  The GLP was launched and began accepting proposals in February.  Five company/projects out of 71 submissions were selected in May.

Gittell, who is also Co-Principal Investigator of GLP, says the judges considered how the companies could contribute to carbon reduction and job creation and their speed to market as a viable business venture.

Planting the seed

Each of the five winners was awarded funds for development costs and is now participating in the summer accelerator program.

"There are a lot of resources in the state that don’t usually get tapped for start-up businesses," Richardson says. "That expertise is being brought in."

UNH professor Gittell says each company is assigned two people from the team, and can work with other experts as needed. In addition, each winner has at least one student intern. "It’s a great learning experience for our students," Gittell says.

Question: What is green entrepreneurship? Answer: Entrepreneurship focused on reducing carbon emissions

At the end of the summer, the companies will present their projects to potential funders such as venture capitalists and private angel funders. "They will have impressive businesses," Gittell says. The goal is to have each company partnered with potential funders by the close of the summer so that they can continue to grow and contribute to the state’s clean energy economy.

The next round of proposals will be accepted next year, says Richardson. The program plans to continue in the future and one of their tasks is to secure funding. "We are looking to have multiple funding sources to keep this a sustainable project," Richardson says.

According to Gittell, the companies are benefiting New Hampshire now and will have positive long-term effects as they expand.

"They are already creating jobs this summer and they all have potential to grow," Gittell says. "We’re planting the seed for the future, particularly with firms that contribute to the economy and also help the environment."

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