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Report on Prospect Silicon Valley, San Jose’s Cleantech Innovation Hub


OED recently presented a report on Prospect Silicon Valley (ProspectSV) to the Community & Economic Development Committee of the San Jose City Council. ProspectSV is a nonprofit clean tech innovation hub located at the City’s Environmental Innovation Center at 1608 Las Plumas Avenue San Jose. ProspectSV’s mission is to accelerate the adoption of clean tech innovations for sustainable, smarter communities thereby addressing critical economic and environmental objectives.

Established in 2012 in conjunction with the development of the City’s Environmental Innovation Center and operational since 2014, Prospect SV was established as a 501(c)3 non-profit public benefit corporation by the City of San Jose and is designed to provide critical infrastructure and affordable space for clean technology companies seeking technology demonstration and prototype opportunities, building first on the City’s Green Vision and then Climate Smart sustainability platforms.

At the core of ProspectSV’s value proposition is 23,000 sq. ft. of flexible space located at  1608 Las Plumas Ave, just north of Downtown.  There, innovators in automotive design, autonomous vehicle systems, and sensors among other areas work on emerging technologies in the fields of renewable energy, energy efficiency, green building, and transportation. This space includes a technology demonstration center with office, conference, and industrial space, and an Intelligent Traffic Systems lab and a driving simulation lab.

Over the past five years, ProspectSV has developed an increasingly pivotal role in supporting 15 demonstration projects, including the coordination of efforts to raise more than $80 million in government grant funding to underwrite the costs for project development and deployment. ProspectSV’s ability to convene a multi-disciplinary team to develop compelling proposals is highly valued by their ecosystem partners.

Delivering on this mission has required the current leadership to expand the ecosystem with new corporate sponsors, partners, and stakeholders. By generating these new corporate relationships across both the private and public sectors, ProspectSV has in turn served to attract a dedicated and growing audience of professionals and academics whose input in turn influences new programs and project activity, as well as new start-ups with emerging technologies. This is in effect an evolving ecosystem of individual experts and organizations that will continue to grow.

To date ProspectSV has supported the commercialization of close to 40 new business startups that in turn have attracted more than  $210 million of investment, creating hundreds of new jobs.

Value Proposition

ProspectSV’s strategy has focused on supporting the emergence of two key interconnected and emerging industries:

  • The electrification (EV) of transportation and development of new modes of mobility, and
  • Commercial buildings and structures that can radically lower net energy use.

In focusing on these important areas, ProspectSV’s value proposition has been built upon four primary elements that support clean technology companies seeking to advance their concepts and/or companies. These are Lab Facilities, Demonstration Projects, Startup Services and ACES Bay Area Network.

  1. Lab Facilities – includes the Intelligent Traffic Systems Lab, an Alpha testbed for advanced transportation and traffic technologies, and the SimLab, a NHTSA-compliant driving simulator.
  2. Example Demonstration Projects – including the Advanced Transit Bus VGI project with VTA; the retrofitting of a Whole Foods store to near-net-zero energy status; and a project to develop readily installed and affordable zero-net-energy retrofit packages for multi-family residences
  3. Start Up Services – ProspectSV is currently supporting 17 start-ups including technologies for hands-free EV charging, software for ridesharing and software-based traffic management solutions.
  4. ACES (Automated Connected Electric & Shared) Bay Network Working Group – in partnership with the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, ProspectSV recognized the strategic significance of the emerging market place for advanced mobility solutions and agreed to establish a Bay Area Network working group and co-design an industry-led program. The Network’s mission is to foster the growth of ACES technologies and services to address the transportation challenges facing the Bay Area. Prospect SV kicked off the network in June 2018 with a group of about 20 individuals from the public, private, and non-profit sectors, including San Jose Mayor Liccardo and the Executive Director of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. The initial effort was to define the mission and scope of the Network.

Collaboration with the City of San Jose

ProspectSV has engaged with the City of San Jose on a number of initiatives in support of the Climate Smart program, including programs within the Department of Transportation that are intended to relieve traffic congestion and lower greenhouse gas emissions.  The VTA has been a partner in many of these efforts and continues to play a critical role in the identification, qualification and validation of advanced mobility technologies and services.

Transportation Innovation Zone:  ProspectSV worked with the City’s DOT to help define and create a Transportation Innovation Zone to facilitate the testing of emerging technologies that can materially impact safety, traffic flow and emissions.  Several technologies have been tested, including a software application that can provide Traffic Signal Prioritization for emergency and transit vehicles.

Autonomous Vehicle Pilot:  ProspectSV supported the Mayor’s Innovation office and the DOT in the development of the AV pilot program.  By helping to convene the initial stakeholder meetings, the City was able to engage with public and private sector partners who could contribute to an AV trial which will roll out in September 2019.  ProspectSV also provided support in the development of the RFI and in the evaluation of the proposals that were received.

Dashboard for Climate Smart Program:  ProspectSV supported the Climate Smart team by engaging Microsoft to assist in the development of a dashboard that would enable the city to track their performance against the Climate Smart plan.

Finances

ProspectSV is financially stable securing close to $1.5m of annualized income. The City of San Jose plays a critical role in providing a below-market sublease valued at $271,192 in the year ending June 2018. ProspectSV now makes a monthly contribution of more than $8,000 towards the building maintenance and operations.

Every $1.00 of city support in turn anchors over $5.00 of other sources of income. The interconnection of public and private funding sources minimizes operating risk and in turn secures the viability of activity and projects.

ProspectSV has a five-year sublease which ran to the end of June 2019 and a three-year extension as set out in the sublease has been agreed to the end of June 2022.

Forward Strategy

ProspectSV will continue to implement the strategy and programs that are currently in place through the following activities:

  • Build ProspectSV’s reputation as the trusted partner of cities and public agencies in emerging clean technology.
  • Expand the ACES Bay Area Network capability and partnerships in both San Jose and across the region.
  • Broaden the range of corporate sponsorships and design new models of collaboration and service innovation.
  • Build on the projects currently underway with VTA to extend the scope and secure additional grant funding to support their deployments.
  • Continue to recruit clean tech start-ups with solutions in the areas of advanced mobility, energy, and the built environment.
  • Expand the scope of collaboration with International partners, such as the European Institute for Technology’s Climate-KIC and Digital teams, and the Mistletoe Foundation in Asia.
  • Identify new concepts in clean tech that can address other important areas of focus for San Jose and the region in water conservation and waste treatment.

CONCLUSION

The City’s partnership with ProspectSV continues through collaboration on economic development initiatives, and by providing accountability and financial oversight through participation in the Board of Non-Executive Directors that regularly meets on a quarterly basis. Oversight by the City of San Jose is secured by representation on the Board of Directors. The Office of Economic Development staff will continue to work directly with ProspectSV to support the strategy of broadening the range of projects in San Jose and the Bay Area.

You can view the  OED presentation to the CED Committee.