By Debra Gruszecki / Photography By Mark Davidson
The Rabobank Regional Business Center is now the headquarters for the Coachella Valley Economic
Partnership and the Coachella Valley Innovation Hub (CViHub). As such, it is starting to reap the harvest of green energy business. The CViHub is, in the purest sense of the word, its own power cell battery: clean, efficient, and built for the future.
The goal of an iHub is to stimulate economic growth and job development by encouraging the success of new companies in specially focused areas of research, such as renewable energy, green technologies, or sustainability. The 12 state-designated iHubs often “leverage assets such as research parks, technology incubators, universities, and federal laboratories to provide an innovation platform for startup companies, economic development organizations, business groups, and venture capitalists” (business.ca.gov).
So why should we care about having a local iHub? That’s easy: it creates jobs; it helps the local economy; it supports start-up companies; it encourages new “green” technology; it enhances the valley’s appeal to industry; and it improves the area’s professional reputation.
According to Thomas Flavin, CEO and President of CVEP, “It’s pretty basic, really. Our operating rules are simple: We remove the barriers to entrepreneurship” and seek to become a renewable center for entrepreneurial activity in the local area.
The CViHub is hosted by the cities of Palm Springs, Desert Hot Springs, and Cathedral City. Its depth areas of competence are renewable energy and enabling technologies that foster the probability of commercial success. So, as Joe Wallace, Managing Director of the CViHub, maintains, “We don’t incubate snow cone stands here.’’ The screening process is as rigorous as admission to some of the best universities.
“The iHub accelerates failures, as well as successes,’’ as Wallace puts it. This may sound a bit unusual, but the point is if a company is going to fail, it is better if it fails before huge sums of money are at risk. If investors are going to back a player, they want to know they are betting on the winner. To this end, Wallace wants “companies that are willing to make commitments required to pass through the valley of death: Twenty four may go in, and one or two get to come out, but those that emerge do so as significant generators of wealth and opportunity.”
Gathered under the roof of a retrofitted building that originally housed the Palm Springs Police Department, the iHub sits within walking distance of Palm Springs International Airport and City Hall. On any given day, the building hums not only with brain power, but also with the energy of electric vehicle converters, hydroponic gardening purveyors, energy storage inventors, LED light distributors, and energy management solution suppliers.
Budding ventures get free office space, a receptionist, use of copy machines and conference rooms, help with business planning, and connections with business resources and prospective “angel investors”-individuals or groups who usually invest their own funds to help start-up companies.
Judging by what people are saying, the iHub is on its way to great success: