BP Awards $500 MM Bioconversion Research Center to Berkeley

BP announced the award of $500 MM Bioconversion research center to Berkeley. The award follows a process where BP had shortlisted several major universities, so I’m really glad to see a local university win it. I had a chance to meet with some of the BP technology team working on this project some months ago, and had gotten some early insight into what it would mean. This had been rumoured for some time, and I had a rumour not too long ago that Berkeley had won.

This is a big part of BP’s low carbon technology strategy, and is an anchor of the open innovation model of technology development BP is doing that we have blogged about before.

Just wait until their next research center gets announced. They are serious about an outsourced based tech transfer model of R&D.

What ever you want to say about BP, when it comes to spreading the wealth in cleantech, they put their money where there mouth is.

The announcement from Berkeley below:

“Colleagues, students, and friends:

I am proud and excited to tell you that a partnership led by UC Berkeley has been selected to receive an unprecedented $500 million from global energy firm BP to lead the way in research to develop new, clean, renewable sources of energy. With this remarkable support, the work Berkeley will undertake will be transformative for our nation and, indeed, our planet.

The campus will partner with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in this 10-year effort, which was announced this morning at a campus press conference by Robert A. Malone, chairman and president of BP America Inc., along with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

This new research effort — the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI) — will focus initially on biotechnology to produce biofuels, that is, transportation fuels that are made from plants. Berkeley and its partners will bring the most creative science, innovative technologies, and astute understanding of social sciences to bear to develop viable solutions to global energy challenges, among the most fundamental problems facing us today.

I firmly believe that the depth and breadth of excellence at Berkeley are what sets us apart. That depth and breadth allow us to reach for such an opportunity, win it, and, I am certain, succeed over the next decade in changing the impact of energy consumption on the world’s environment.

My congratulations and gratitude go to the faculty and staff who have worked so hard and with such vision to take this idea from proposal to reality. I invite you to read more about this good news for Berkeley– and view a webcast of the press conference later today — at http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/goto/ebi.

Yours sincerely,

Robert J. Birgeneau

Author Neal Dikeman is a founding partner at Jane Capital Partners LLC, a boutique merchant bank advising strategic investors and startups in cleantech. He is the founding contributor of Cleantech Blog, and a Contributing Editor to AltEnergyStocks.com.

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