Renewable energy is not a sexy topic, nor one top of mind when it comes to building a fast-track business. But that doesn´t mean companies aren’t leveraging government initiatives to build profitable, sustainable businesses. And it´s not just companies. Individuals in the Ph.D gene-pool have great ideas know they have a better chance of climbing a ladder to the moon that getting a traditional VC firm to fund their idea–so the government can and should be an alternative path to getting to the same business destination.
In California, the energy crunch got a lot of smart folks thinking about how to use solar energy in the housing market. The government got wise and created a program that encourages builders to harness the power of the sun by installing solar energy systems as a standard feature. The goal of the partnership between the construction industry and the government is not about "making money" it´s about lowering the consumer energy bill (note the partnership was NOT between the government and the energy firms).
Where do the Ph.D´s come in? The Arnold proposed $95M in new moneys for looking into energy efficient programs. Scientists, small businesses and service providers (consultants) could all take a little slice of this budget should it come to fruition. And on that note, a partnership with the (state) government could be created to analyze the opportunities, provide recommendations and then work with organizations to implement the findings. Sounds like a biz dev opportunity to me.