Area 52 Accelerator Housed at Sierra Energy Research Park

Area 52 Accelerator Housed at Sierra Energy Research Park

Area 52 Accelerator Fills Gap in Clean-Tech Industry Acceleration and Incubation

The growing demand and market for clean-technologies is becoming more and more necessary as citizens are calling for carbon neutral cities, which rely on the invention and development of new sustainable energy generation, efficiency, and recycling technologies. Although the rise in demand calls for new innovative ways to build green cities, startups in the clean-tech space do not have sufficient access to space and tools necessary to develop and test their ideas. Sierra Energy, a gasification company, seeks to expand their offering to the Greater Sacramento Region by developing the Sierra Energy Research Park located in Davis California. This new space will house an accelerator called Area 52, which will develop startups in 5 different verticals of: Energy, Life Sciences, Aerospace & UAVs, Ag and Food, and Advanced Manufacturing.

The Sierra Energy Research Park (SERP) aims to put their 6+ acres of campus to use by connecting and accelerating the innovation and capitalization of clean-tech companies by providing sufficient access to a rapid prototyping lab and connections to tools necessary to build high performing technologies. SERP plans to do this by offering an incubation space of 10,000 sq. ft (2 floors with 10 bays) as well as acceleration through their Area 52 accelerator program. Area 52 will focus on mid-stage startups and is unique in its offering to clean-tech entrepreneurs and startups because they will provide access to physical tools necessary to engineer and build technologies that will transform the green industries. Additionally, they are creating a unique incubator that caters to technologies typically overlooked in relation to the green industries. Enabling entrepreneurs to not only design clean tech solutions, but also fabricate and test them, makes SERP and Area 52 unique in the world. SERP’s location in Davis, CA places it within biking distance from the University allowing university entrepreneurs to develop their clean-tech ideas into companies and products.

The SERP project is underway and has seen tremendous progress since its ideation back in 2015. The initial phase of the research park is projected to be completed by spring of 2018. Sierra Energy Research Park and their Area 52 accelerator are actively seeking campus-level sponsors to generate additional value to the program and space.

If you are interested in becoming a campus-level sponsor please contact: Rob White at rwhite@sierraenergy.com



Cameron is a Sacramento-native who recently graduated with a Masters of Business in both Sustainability and International Business. His goal is to ignite Sacramento's clean tech economy catalyzing the transformation of the region into a global economic hub with CleanStart.




The future of transportation is electric vehicles (EVs), Governor Brown of California has taken action to lay the foundation for the future by setting  a target of  1.5 million EVs on the road by 2025. Sacramento was the recipient of $44 Million in investment from VW lending to an increased amount of capital in the EV sector.  Currently half of all EVs sold in the US are sold in California and the market for EVs nationwide is continuing to grow. The market share of EVs has grown from less than 1% a few years ago to greater than 2% today.  

With the growth of EVs Californians have developed a problem which is, Where do they charge their EVs? The growing demand for charging stations has placed a significant strain on the charging infrastructure.  EV drivers are continually finding themselves looking for spots to charge constantly because they don’t want to be caught with low power or at a low powered charge station forcing them to spend several hours charging. A regional company, Charge-X wants to support the transition to EVs by bringing the Tesla Experience to EV charging.

What is the Tesla experience? There are currently four ways people buy their kwh from charging stations.

  • Level one: your typical wall outlet that gives you ~4.5 miles per hour of charging
  • Level two: which can deliver up to 7.2 kwh to your car for 26 miles per hour
  • Level three: Known as DC fast chargers most places limit your time to half an hour or about 90 miles in that time.
  • Level 4: Also, known as the Tesla Supercharger it is the Gold Standard with 120 kwh chargers giving Tesla owners 120 miles in just 20 min.

Tesla not only delivers the most power per charging station, but also is able to accommodate the most cars close to 10 stations on average. Charge-X wants to help all EV users have the efficiency of the Tesla Charging, while illuminating the “white glove service”.Tesla puts 10+ charging stations out delivering more than 120 kwh to a charging tesla. Charge-X wants to do even better, they want multi-charging stations that could be capable of delivering more than 120 kwh with services to help drivers relax while they wait.

The founder of Charge-X, Bill Northup, is reaching out to local utilities, air districts and EV enthusiasts to bring his solution to reality. Working with various groups Charge-X hopes to help push out large groups of charging stations.  Agencies like SMUD, City Governments, other regional utilities, and state boards, have stepped in to help put in EV chargers by funding them, but there has been no equivalent stepping up in the private sector to fill this demand. Why? Margins on energy (just like gasoline) are small. So to justify installing charging stations their needs to be high volume kwh sold.

If you want to learn more about Charge-X contact Bill Northrup at Bill.Northrup@Charge-X.com


Thomas is the Executive Director of CleanStart. Thomas has a strong background in supporting small businesses, leadership, financial management and is proficient in working with nonprofits. He has a BS in Finance and a BA in Economics from California State University, Chico. Thomas has a passion for sustainability and a commitment to supporting non-profits in the region.

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College of Engineering & Computer Science at Sacramento State

Profile: Arch Nexus

Profile: Arch Nexus

“Our hope is that Arch | Nexus SAC will be an inspiration for others to employ similar methods and create places that enhance the community and respect nature.” – Arch | Nexus

Arch | Nexus SAC, a Sacramento architectural firm, is in the hunt for becoming the 16th building worldwide to gain accreditation by the International Living Future Institute for their Living Building Challenge. The Living Building Challenge is a certification that recognizes a building that satisfies excellence in all seven “Petal” categories of sustainable living, which are energy, water, materials, health + happiness, equity, place, and beauty. In essence, a Living Building Challenge certified building is net energy positive, water neutral, and carbon negative.

Walking into Arch | Nexus SAC and its living ecosystem you are welcomed by “Audrey”, the office’s living flora wall, which recycles used grey water while offering beauty to the building’s entrance. The office space offers an open design for innovation to flourish as employees collaborate under natural light filtering in through the office windows and concentrating skylights. The thermal regulators are the employees (community members) as they are notified by smart sensors on when to best open or close the windows for natural ventilation. Behind the walls of this innovative and sustainable layout is where the true beauty lies. In the backroom of the office, engineering at its finest has taken place as all greywater is recycled and stored for later use, and composting toilets act as the building’s own sewage treatment system. In addition to its water recycling process, the building is powered by a number of solar panels offering a minimum of 105% of the offices energy needs.

Now, the building itself and the technologies integrated into its existence are major contributors to the Living Building Challenge, but the commitment by the members of the office (community) to live and adapt to such an ecosystem is a major driving force. Arch | Nexus SAC seeks to enter into a new era of economy called the Purpose Economy. They state, “It turns out architecture is not about buildings. It’s about the people in and around them. The experiences they have. The purpose they serve. This is our why.”

As a steward for buildings of the future, Arch | Nexus SAC ticks the box on the highest level of LEED certification. The building is LEED Version 4 Platinum certified placing it within the top echelon of green buildings. In an effort to follow their why, Arch | Nexus SAC’s inspiration and leadership of others has been recognized as SMUD has taken them on as a partner in developing the SMUD Living Future Project Accelerator program aimed at increasing awareness and green building developers. The accelerator powered by SMUD will ignite the cleantech and green building industry within Sacramento by providing a platform and mentorship for sustainable thinking to thrive. If you are a developer or a cleantech company, who has technology that could supply and help build a living ecosystem or would like to attend a free Accelerator class or tour on Living Buildings and Zero Net Energy, click on the link below to check out the accelerator further.



Cameron is a Sacramento-native who recently graduated with a Masters of Business in both Sustainability and International Business. His goal is to ignite Sacramento's clean tech economy catalyzing the transformation of the region into a global economic hub with CleanStart.


New Sacramento Ranking

New Sacramento Ranking

Business Week published in its Sept 11 edition a two-factor ranking of 300 areas in the US as tech hubs. Unfortunately, it is only available in the print edition.  I have extracted approximations of the data by measuring the dots on image of the chart directly.  Sacramento rates reasonably well.  Here is what I extracted.

The two factors BW used are measures of the “techiness” of a region and its “livability”.  “Techiness” is based on nine measures:  Rates of college education, number of science and engineering majors, number of top universities, HQs of big tech companies, amount of VC investment, share of computer/IT jobs in the total job count, broadband saturation rates, number of independent coffee shops, and ease of commuting by bike, public transit, and on foot.   “Livability” is based on affordability of housing, length of commute drive times, and relative income equality.  Converting to a scale from 1 (best) to 10 (worst), Silicon Valley itself rates a 10 on techiness and a 1.7 on livability.  San Francisco holds down the worst score of 1 on livability, and a techiness rank of 7.65.

Sacramento gets a score of 2.34 on techiness and 4.5 on livability.  For comparison, Boston gets 4.6 on techiness and 3.3 on livability.  Napa and Santa Rosa rate better than Sacramento on techiness, but worse on livability.  Phoenix is worse on techiness, better on livability.  Sacramento is often compared to Austin, Texas, as a rival.  I couldn’t find that on the chart, unfortunately.  Another close rival, Boulder is  much better on techiness at 6.0, and a bit worse on livability at 4.1.

One shouldn’t dig for deep meanings in rankings like this, since one could quibble with the input data and the choice of measures that were used, but it is an interesting picture of where Sacramento roughly fits in the universe of tech hubs right now.

Are you “Deal-Ready”?  Attend our next intensive class on October 18, etc.  See also our blog on what it means to be deal-ready.

Thomas Hall


Gary Simon is the Chair of CleanStarts Board. A seasoned energy executive and entrepreneur with 45 years of experience in business, government, and non-profits.

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