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published on May 3, 2022 - 3:04 PM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

The Water, Energy and Technology (WET) Center on the Fresno State campus was recently granted a $250,000 award from the California Office of the Small Business Advocate’s (CalOSBA) iHub2 program to incubate and accelerate technology and science-based firms in underserved regions and communities, including women and people of color.

The WET Center will establish the Central Valley Inclusive Innovation Hub (CViiHub) to serve as a bridge between local and state innovation ecosystems, resources and networks to support the success of the program, according to a news release.

This Inclusive Innovation Hub is one of 10 regional Hubs designated by the state.

“The Inclusive Innovation Hub program is building on the strengths of the clustered regional model with a new focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion. We believe it will accelerate technology and science-based firms in key industry areas with strong outreach to diverse founders and underserved geographies. California leads the nation in business starts and working to support small businesses in these sectors continues to be critical to our full economic recovery,” said CalOSBA Director Tara Lynn Gray.

The CViiHub initial actions will concentrate on establishing the hub, promoting technology transfer and assisting promising startups with layered support and partnerships.

“We are tremendously excited to have been awarded this grant, as it further aids the WET Center’s efforts to increase diversity, equity and inclusion in every aspect of our programs, services and partnerships” said Helle Petersen, director of the WET Center. “The CViiHub will augment and leverage our existing programs to provide support in technology commercialization and access to capital to small businesses and entrepreneurs, in particular Black, Indigenous, and people of color, women and disadvantaged communities. We are fortunate to collaborate with an impressive group of partners from the region, from community-based organizations to municipalities and educational institutions.”

The CViiHub will access existing programs provided by the WET Center and its partners, and will also seek to identify gaps and needs for specific programs and support. The CViiHub will generate new innovations, new businesses, jobs and economic enhancement in diverse communities across the Central Valley. In doing so, this region can seize an opportunity to become the world leader for cleantech and sustainable climate-smart agricultural technology innovation, according to a news release.

CalOSBA made a total $2.5 million investment in the iHub2 program.

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