California Governor Schwarzenegger will propose nearly $95 million in the state budget to create the Governor’s Research and Innovation Initiative. This initiative is designed to provide funding for major projects that will increase California’s economic strength in key innovation sectors, including cleantech, biotech and nanotech.
As a part of his proposed budget that will be unveiled in January, the major components of the Governor’s Research and Innovation Initiative include:
Helios Project. The Governor’s budget provides $30 million in lease revenue bonds for the Helios Project, an initiative by the University of California’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to create sustainable, carbon-neutral sources of energy. The Helios Project will produce the next generation of super-efficient solar energy technology that will help reduce greenhouse gases and oil dependency.
The Helios Project’s four goals are 1) generate clean sustainable alternatives to hydrocarbon fuels; 2) develop new energy sources; 3) improve energy conservation; and 4) reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The $30 million will be used to build a new energy/nanotechnology research building for the Helios Project.
Energy Biosciences Institute. The Governor’s budget provides $40 million in lease revenue bonds to the University of California for UC Berkeley or UC San Diego in the event that either wins a global competition for the British Petroleum (BP) Energy Biosciences Institute grant. (Earlier post.)
These campuses were among only five universities in the world that were invited to compete for the $500 million grant to build and operate an Energy Biosciences Institute, which will be dedicated to long-term research into the production of alternative fuels. The Institute will focus on converting biomass materials into fuels, converting fossil fuels to energy with less environmental damage and maximizing oil extraction from existing wells in environmentally sensitive ways. To accelerate California’s movement towards a clean fuel future, the University of California will dovetail the Institute’s work with the Helios Project.
California Centers for Science and Innovation. The Governor’s budget provides $19.8 million (General Fund) for the California Institutes for Science and Innovation (CISI). CISI is a multidisciplinary research effort by the University of California-working in partnership with private companies-in the areas of information technology, biomedical research and nanotechnology.
Since their inception, the institutes have generated more than $1 billion from private and federal sources, surpassing the state’s $400 million initial investment. The $19.8 million will be used for the institutes’ operating costs.
Petascale Supercomputer. The budget provides the first $5 million increment in state matching funds to enhance the University of California’s bid to build a $200 million Petascale computer. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and UC San Diego are in the running for the Petascale computer. The Petascale computer will be the most powerful computer in the world.
For scientific policies to become reality elected officials must play a leadership role, and Governor Schwarzenegger has been that leader for California when it comes to alternative fuels—solar cell technology and bio-fuels—and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Governor, again this year, is serving as a catalyst for California’s research community by including funding in his budget that will help researchers to focus on both the demand and supply sides of energy: the development of clean, sustainable alternative energies, energy efficiency and energy conservation.—Dr. Steven Chu, Director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Professor of Physics UC Berkeley and Nobel Laureate