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California Governor to Propose $95 Million for Cleantech, Biotech and Nanotech Research

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



There are several ways to handle governing a state that needs to balance a budget, cut costs, raise revenue or grow. The first two were no go, so we try the third. Bush maintained that reducing CO2 would hurt the economy. I contend that it will expand the economy with new jobs in new industries, providing clean alternatives to the status quo. Howver, if you represent the status quo, change is the last thing you would want.

Roger Pham

In this competitive world, developing new technologies is key to continual economic prosperity and maintaining word-wide standing. "Those who don't move forward will fall behind."..."Failing to plan will have the same result as planning to fail." Maintaining the status quo will have similar effect.


There are two vastly distinct approaches to tackle the environmental problems, real or not very much so. One is to force people for: not to reproduce, eat less meat, do not drive, do not fly, consume only absolute minimum, and live from local garden. Another is what is broadly associated with term “technofix’, which is get rich and throw money at the problem. Which one do you prefer?


Increasingly it has been borrowed money. The national debt is at $9 tillion and climbing. The trade deficit was over $700 billion and climbing. At some point the good faith and credit of the U.S. runs out.


Hey Andrey, your English suddenly got a lot better...Joseph. :D

Harvey D.

Roger Pham:

There is a lot of truth in your statement. Look what is happening to the auto industry. Sustained innovation, better and more efficient vehicles is pushing Toyota ahead of GM for the first time.

USA is still number one in R & D and design but is falling behind with commercial application and production. We can design the most advanced Car, TV, Computer, Telephone etc but we cannot economically produce them. We are progressively pricing ourselves out of the production market. A reality check may be on the horizon.

To regain production share, our industries will have to find ways to cut production cost by up to 50% and more. Unions will not easily accept cuts in wages and benefits. More automation may do the trick in some areas.

A progressive reduction of the value of the USA dollar (to 50% of the current value) may be part of the solution. This would progressively reduce imports, increase exports and effectively reduce the existing debt. A thousand trillion 50 cents is easier to pay back than a thousand trillion dollars. Of course, as prices of imported products creep up, the average standard of livng would go down, closer to reality.

fyi CO2

UC Berkeley becomes a thinktank again.

Andrey, how about a hybrid: consume less & technofix?

Rodger, where does your quote "Failing to plan will have the same result as planning to fail." originate? Kissinger?


In a time when Republicans in general could do better on the environment, Arnold stands out as a great example of strategic environmentlism - tying job growth to environmental protection. It is a natural fit more Republicans need to embrace. This is the way forward for business and environmental interest groups.


Right, hit it high, hit it low, hit it from all directions. Tackling an issue as big, and complex as the shift to renewable energy, requires many vectors of effort to successfully, and economically achieve objectives.


Why only Schwarzenegger ???? The other States the dont care about our lifes????


You also have Mayors Daley (Chicago) and Bloomberg (NYC), and outgoing Gov Pataki (NY). Daley and Bloomberg have championed green standards, and sustainable growth. Pataki has the "Million Acre" land acquisition and preservation program.


Consumerism is not the sole problem. Flying, driving, buying, selling remain fixed functions in a major market-driven economy. However, doing these things with renewable, sustainable infrastructure and consumer actions is the goal. Indeed, there are many vectors required to accomplish this large shift in living standards. We need not sacrifice these standards to meet the goals. Applying technology where useful, combined with altered consumer habits, education and awareness is a prudent and reasonable course to the goals.

Governor Schwarzenegger has consistently championed his State as a center for innovation, thinking and new technology. He is to be commended for leading well and keeping "Calif-orneea" at the center of new-world growth.


If we make the transition smooth and gradual, which means we start now, it can be seamless and even prosperous. But if we stay with the old ways, it can be gut renching and painful. We get to choose which way we want to go.

kent beuchert

Whenever money starts getting thrown at a problem because the public is all riled up, look out for
pork barrel wastes. Money need to be spent as opportunities present themselves and public money can
make a difference. Throwing big wads of cash at universities has never been a particularly fruitful path to achieve anything of importance. There's certainly more hype than hope for these myriad endeavors.


When I look at no bid contracts for $1B going to companies, I do not worry about the $1m grants being sprinkled around by the DOE.


I would have to say that big wads of cash being thrown around at researchers created functional atomic energy (albeit in a very destructive form). It also created the aerospace industry. Both help cement the US as a technology leader in the world for decades.

Renewable energy is not a vastly more difficult process considering the technology available. THE PROBLEM IS MOTIVATION.

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