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Biorenewables Initiative

Cleantech San Diego drives a number of programs that support new and emerging industries. With dozens of biofuels companies and multiple world-class research institutes and universities in the region, San Diego is a hub for biorenewables discovery, production, and commercialization.


To fuel this growth, Cleantech San Diego instituted its Biorenewables Initiative to bring together private industry with policy makers and elected officials to discuss opportunities and challenges in building the industry.

Edge Initiative

Since 2010 a consortium of local groups have been training biofuel workers at UC San Diego and MiraCosta College with a $4-million grant from the state’s Department of Labor under the EDGE Initiative—Educating and Developing workers for the Green Economy.


The grant involves the work of a number of local public and private partners, including Cleantech San Diego, BIOCOM, BIOCOM Institute, San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, Imperial Valley Economic Development Corporation, California Center for Algae Biotechnology (Cal-CAB), UC San Diego, UC San Diego Extension, San Diego State University, San Diego Workforce Partnership, and MiraCosta College. At UC San Diego Extension, 166 students have enrolled in the EDGE Biofuels Certificate Program and 70 certificates have been earned to date.

RICO Grant

In June 2013, Cleantech San Diego, San Diego Regional EDC, and Imperial Valley EDC were awarded a Regional Industry Clusters of Opportunity II (RICO) grant from the California Workforce Investment Board. This $250,000 grant is funded by Assembly Bill 118, Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program, through the California Energy Commission and will help facilitate the continued development of the region’s biorenewables industry.


With the successful conclusion of the EDGE Initiative, a state funded, industry-led program to train and educate workers in the biorenewables industry, San Diego and Imperial Valley face additional obstacles in developing their biorenewables industry.


As companies like Cellana, Sapphire Energy, and Synthetic Genomics continue to refine their products regionally, they’re turning elsewhere to commercialize their suite of biorenewable products. Although the research and development jobs remain in California, the majority of the jobs created by the biorenewables industry are leaving the state.


In response to this trend, the RICO grant allows grant partners to work closely with the biorenewables industry to better understand its growth projections and, more importantly, to understand the permitting process in the Imperial Valley. With technical assistance from RICO, grant partners are collecting updated and relevant industry information and analyzing the permitting process that companies must follow in order to build a demonstration/commercialization project in the Imperial Valley.


The partners are working with industry stakeholders to help formulate policy recommendations, should they be necessary, that streamline the permitting process and encourage companies and their workforce to grow in the San Diego/Imperial Valley region.