There was an early morning Zoom celebration heard around at least a few homes in the Valley Wednesday.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced selections for the prize portion of the Energy Program for Innovation Clusters , and a team from Fresno was one of the winners.

The Water, Energy and Technology Center (WET Center) at Fresno State won $50,000.

The EPIC prize seeks to recognize the most innovative and impactful incubators focused on developing strong regional innovation clusters for energy-related technology and entrepreneurship.

“We’ve been working for the past 4 or 5 years to create an innovation cluster around energy technology in the Central Valley.”WET Center program manager Helle Petersen

WET Center

“We’ve been working for the past 4 or 5 years to create an innovation cluster around energy technology in the central valley,” WET Center program manager Helle Petersen tells GV Wire℠ by Zoom. The center is not funded by Fresno State so they rely on grant money to deliver their programs to the Valley.

“We’ve been able to identify some gaps that are limiting the impact we’d like to see energy entrepreneurs even further,” says Petersen.

She says they want to fill those gaps to make the Valley even more competitive around the commercialization of innovative energy technologies.

One of the big gaps she sees? Investment readiness that prevents local companies from being what Petersen calls, ‘investment worthy.’ Part of they ways the WET Center will help do this is to assist local companies assemble the right kind of team, the right type of documentations they’ll need, and prepare them for meetings with investors.

$50,000 Prize

The Department of Energy gave out a total of $1 million dollars among 20 organizations throughout the country.

“We’re going to use this program (prize money) to bolster our capacity as a team,” said Petersen. “For the most part, we don’t charge money for the programs we offer (to companies) because we have access to grant funding that allows us to help many entrepreneurs and innovators at no cost.”

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