This story originally appeared in UCLA Today, a discontinued publication.

LA strives to become the capital of green technology

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Chancellor Block, second from the left, walks with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and other leaders to a signing ceremony at City Hall. - Photos by Rich Schmitt.
Chancellor Block, second from the left, walks with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and other leaders to a signing ceremony at City Hall. - Photos by Rich Schmitt.
In an agreement that officials expect will boost environmental research and bring green jobs to Los Angeles, Chancellor Gene Block joined Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and representatives from business, education and government Wednesday, April 15, to formally sign up for a partnership known as CleanTech Los Angeles.

CleanTech Los Angeles brings together groups like the city's power and water utility, the chamber of commerce, and scientific research heavyweights UCLA, USC and CalTech to turn the city into a center of green technology, green jobs and green manufacturing, officials explained. The ultimate goal is a lofty one: to become the global capital of clean technology.

For universities like UCLA, the partnerships boost opportunities to help the community by researching climate change and developing alternative energy solutions, said Block.

"We have a multitude of faculty who are national and international leaders in research involving solar panels, hydrogen fuel cells, nanotechnology and many other fields critical to the development of the clean technology business sector," Block said. "Our partnership with the City of Los Angeles, USC and CalTech — with combined intellectual capital unmatched by an other region — represents a significant step in bolstering the region's long-term economic health while making Los Angeles the capital of the green economy."
 
Chancellor Block, above, greets Associate Professor Richard Wirz of UCLA's Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department. Wirz will start a joint UCLA-DWP lab to develop new wind-power technology, one of the first projects being sponsored by CleanTech LA.
Chancellor Block, above, greets Associate Professor Richard Wirz of UCLA's Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department. Wirz will start a joint UCLA-DWP lab to develop new wind-power technology, one of the first projects being sponsored by CleanTech LA.
The CleanTech partnership unites UCLA, the city of Los Angeles, USC, CalTech, the Los Angeles Business Council, the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp. and the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, with involvement from others such as the city's Community Redevelopment Agency and Department of Water and Power (DWP).
 
Leaders from each agency signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) at a City Hall news conference to affirm their commitment to the year-old partnership. CleanTech LA originally was formed to help Los Angeles lobby to bring the proposed California Institute for Climate Change to the region, explained Michael Swords, UCLA's executive director of strategic research initiatives. The institute, still under development in state legislation, could bring with it $100 million in research funding, Swords said.

"Signing the MOU is incredibly important because it is the formal promise by all the institutions involved to commit their resources to CleanTech LA," Swords said. "It's about establishing L.A. as the clean-technology capital of the world, by attracting new businesses, advocating for research dollars, training a new clean-technology workforce and licensing new technology."

podium.groupThe partnership enables all involved agencies to throw their combined weight behind lobbying for state and federal clean-tech dollars, and research centers like UCLA can participate in joint research programs.

CleanTech LA is already developing a joint UCLA-DWP clean technology research center in downtown LA where UCLA will have a laboratory to research wind power. Another project will lay the groundwork for turning a city-owned site near downtown into a CleanTech manufacturing center, where green businesses will be encouraged to set up shop.

"We will make clean tech as synonymous with LA as motion pictures," Villaraigosa said. "We will make LA the capital of green technology … and transform the city into a laboratory for green development."
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