CSU students with big ideas on how California can preserve its energy, agriculture and water supply need look no further than the BlueTechValley Innovation Cluster to bring their concepts to life.

Six CSU campuses recently signed on to the BlueTechValley partnership, with on-campus facilities at Bakersfield, Chico, Fresno, Humboldt, Monterey Bay and Sacramento.

BlueTechValley provides aspiring entrepreneurs the mentorship, business connections and laboratory resources needed to get their innovations off the ground and into the market. Funded in part by the California Energy Commission, the program's mission is to spur growth and help turn innovative visions into real-world solutions for managing our finite natural resources.

Each campus has a designated hub where students can bring their ideas or prototype to a faculty member or industry expert. Students receive technology evaluation, advice, incubator services and pitching experience. Once they are ready, students are given valuable connections to funding opportunities, including investors and industry sponsors.

"BlueTechValley is a great opportunity for students to get the ball rolling on their environmental innovations," said Lonny Grafman, a professor of Environmental Resources Engineering and managing director of BlueTechValley at Humboldt State University. "The program doesn't take any equity in their projects and we don't manage their businesses. Students own it all from beginning to end; our goal is to assist with bringing their ideas to life."

Grafman explains that the CSU-BlueTechValley partnership is mutually beneficial to both parties, bringing unique opportunities to each while sharing a mission.

"BlueTechValley benefits by expanding their reach to the CSU student body, while CSU campuses benefit from BlueTechValley's well-developed institutional knowledge, processes and resources.

The program is looking for ways to grow food that are safe, healthy and inexpensive while also protecting our natural environment. A lot of those ideas are born in universities, but many of these ideas simply die because students don't know where to go next. BlueTechValley is bridging the gap and eliminating barriers between concept and market."

All CSU students at any of the six partner campuses that are looking to get on the path to environmental entrepreneurship are encouraged to apply, regardless of major. All levels of development are welcome, even if just at an idea stage. For more information, visit http://bluetechvalley.org/resources/services/.

Programs such as BlueTechValley promotes student engagement, which is a key priority for the CSU and integral to the university's Graduation Initiative 2025 efforts to improve student achievement. For more information on Graduation Initiative 2025, please visit the Graduation Initiative 2025 website.