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Florida's "Clean" Focus

30 Jun, 2009

By: John Adams

Florida’s business climate is ripe for clean energy innovators to advance the development of this burgeoning industry.

“There’s ample interest from both business and government,” said John Adams Jr., president & CEO of Enterprise Florida Inc., the state’s primary economic development organization. “We have the will, talent, the right environmental conditions and large market for clean energy products.”

These attributes were the impetus for Florida’s designating clean energy as a high impact sector in late 2008. In August, the Enterprise Florida board made the recommendation to the state’s Office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development, resulting in the approval. High impact sector designation will enhance Florida’s ability to attract businesses, creating a significant number of new jobs and making substantial capital investments in the clean energy field. Projects within designated areas of clean energy are now eligible for capital investment tax credits and the High Impact Performance Incentive.  

Clean Energy

  • A fast-growing Florida industry

  • Ideal for businesses because of natural resources, high-tech companies and research centers

  • Florida is a large potential market for solar technologies

  • Five clean energy R&D centers in state: Florida Atlantic University, University of South Florida, University of Florida , University of Central Florida and Florida State University

 

Clean Energy:  High Impact Performance Incentive (HIPI)

Florida’s HIPI grant is used to attract and grow high impact facilities. Recipients must: 

  • Be in a high impact sector

  • Create at least 100 new full-time jobs (75 for R&D facilities) in a 3-year period

  • Make an investment in Florida of at least $100M ($75M for R&D facilities) in a 3-year period

The benefits of the personal commitment of Governor Charlie Crist, combined with these and other incentives and regulatory tools, are enabling Florida to showcase the use of renewable energy sources successfully. Furthermore, the state is inspiring innovation in the clean energy field while becoming a national model for such initiatives.

Innovations
“We’re witnessing an outpouring of innovation throughout the state where renewable energy companies are thriving,” Adams confirmed. Examples can be seen in the following categories:

Technological Innovation – In the areas of solar, biomass/biofuels, ocean energy generation, and fuel cells and hydrogen technologies, Florida businesses are maximizing opportunities deriving from the clean energy field. What’s more, many Florida companies specialize and innovate in other clean technologies that complement or supplement renewables, improving energy efficiency, management, transmission and storage, as well as advanced nuclear and fossil energy generation technologies.

Florida is also home to notable research centers that provide expertise across the spectrum of clean energy technologies. These centers support fields like nanotechnology, biochemistry and engineering as well. Many of the talented scientists working in them are at the cutting edge of clean energy research and development and often work closely with industry and entrepreneurs to turn research breakthroughs into commercialization success stories.

Abundance of natural and human resources – Florida’s geography, mild climate and strong agricultural sector enables the state to offer significant solar, biomass and ocean energy resources. And because of its progressive education and workforce training programs, Florida is building a talent pipeline that will supply the industry with the innovators and the skilled workers needed for competitive advantage.

Large, open market of opportunity – Florida is one of the largest markets for clean energy products, technologies, and services…and it’s growing. The state ranks as the third largest market for transportation fuel and the fourth largest market for electricity in the U.S. according to the Department of Energy. While only a small portion of both markets now are served by renewable energy sources, the state’s comprehensive energy policy guarantees growing demand for renewable fuels and power generation.

Building Awareness
Interest and feedback on clean energy in Florida have come through a wide variety of information channels, a notable one being webinars sponsored by Enterprise Florida. For example, more than 400 people from 30 countries were registered participants in the recent “Partnering for Success: Strategies for Growing Your Cleantech Business through Partnerships.” This webinar targeted clean energy entrepreneurs, industry leaders, venture capitalists and researchers. It was co-sponsored and moderated by the Cleantech Group, which defined and introduced cleantech as an investment category in 2002. Presenters were senior executives at companies that have leveraged various academic, government and industry partnerships to succeed and grow in the clean energy industry: Vinod Philip, engineering director, Siemens Energy; Carl Smith, CEO, Sunovia Energy Technologies, a renewable energy and energy conservation company; and Cindy Tindell, senior director of development, Florida Power & Light.

In one of its own partnerships, Enterprise Florida teamed with Clean Edge, a leading research firm covering the clean tech industry. Clean Edge published an article submitted by Enterprise Florida in the November edition of its e-newsletter Clean Edge Alert. “The Emergence of Regional Clean-Tech Clusters: A Closer Look at Clean Energy and the Sunshine State” reached more than 25,000 subscribers. An example of other publications of Florida’s clean energy story includes an article in Scientific American magazine on clean energy from the ocean. It overviewed research at Florida Atlantic University's Center of Excellence in Ocean Energy Technology and at SRI International. Access to these and other articles published in U.S. and global media outlets that feature Florida’s significant technology breakthroughs is available via Enterprise Florida’s website’s Innovation Center. Visit "Florida Innovation Buzz" at www.eflorida.com/innovationcenter.

Other components of the strategy have included thought leadership initiatives and a national marketing campaign. The clean energy webinars, along with the campaign, are promoting successful Florida businesses and academic centers that have had noteworthy accomplishments. Moreover, an e-mail drive targeted more than 18,000 members of the Cleantech Group who represented at least 38 countries including Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Israel and India.  One-hundred companies responded that they were planning to expand and would consider Florida.

Among the events where Florida has accessed informational and branding opportunities has been Cleantech Forum XXI. Held in February in San Francisco, the forum’s audience was comprised of roughly 500 venture capitalists and cleantech entrepreneurs.

In essence, people are learning about Florida’s unique advantages and resources. The state has become a highly suitable setting for exploring and executing advancements in clean energy; one that allows companies to demonstrate their competitive expertise. From the initial innovation idea through the commercialization process and the realization of market growth, businesses can find the right resources, conditions and partners to succeed in Florida.

“Inspiring innovation and investment in new clean energy technologies and building a strong clean energy market are critical factors in our state’s leadership in the new era of green energy and environmental stewardship,” said Adams.

About the Author

John Adams

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