The Santa Fe Innovation Park (SFIP) is a laboratory for developing and deploying innovative approaches to complex, practical problems. Utilizing a unique method, SFIP  creates, prototypes, tests, and scales effective solutions to pressing real-world challenges in such areas as energy, education, and health.

SFIP emphasizes new problem-solving processes and creative collaboration, and brings together individual and institutional leaders from industry and commerce; public planning and policy; science and technology; and the design, art, and creative fields.

You can read more about this new approach here, and sample our blog posts and items of current interest below.

The following post originally appeared on the Microgrid Systems Lab news page:

MSL Partner Santa Fe Community College (SFCC) and its Sustainable Technologies Center has received two funding commitments in support of its Microgrid Education Center (MEC), which now begins its planning and development phase. Together, these commitments address both curriculum and associated equipment and infrastructure, including a campus-wide functional microgrid testbed, in a way that supports MSL’s overall mission and objectives.

The Microgrid Education Center will provide technical training, ongoing development for industry professionals, custom training for industry, and upper-level courses and advanced degrees through university partnerships, along with “train the trainer” offerings for global applications. The electric industry workforce is graying rapidly, and will require large numbers of new workers soon, with concurrent growth internationally in rural electrification. In order to keep pace with the technological innovations affecting the industry, there will be a crucial need for appropriately trained technical staff at all levels and sectors of the industry, a need that MEC will help address.

Read the rest of this entry »

This post originally appeared on SFIP’s Microgrid Systems Lab (MSL) news:

Human, Social, And Cultural Practices Work Advances

MSL is pleased to announce that its inaugural research publication is available for download: Human, Social, And Cultural Practices For Rural Electrification Using Microgrids develops a critical set of insights and tools to ensure the success of rural microgrid (and other technology) deployments based on essential aspects of community engagement and input. This work was the subject of the MSL-hosted workshop in May 2014, and formed part of a Stage 1 feasibility study for rural deployments in India. MSL is now part of a consortium comprising MSL Members General MicroGrids, Inc. and The Energy and Resources Institute, along with Alstom Grid USA, India Smart Grid Forum, and India’s TERRE Policy Center, which is assembling funding for Stage 2 design and deployment work. In addition, MSL is developing the Center for Participatory Energy Practice (CPEP), and through it will support training and community engagement work in the field. Read the rest of this entry »

Santa Fe’s next generation of Social Entrepreneurs have arrived

After careful deliberation by an expert panel of judges, Impact Network Santa Fe (an SFIP collaboration with the Story of Place Institute) has chosen its first class of social entrepreneurs to venture on a five month fellowship to gear their businesses for optimum results. Social enterprises are those that harness market forces and utilize business skills and practices in order to achieve a social objective, and are a critical element of the overall INSF initiative.

The IN Santa Fe Challenge Fellowship is an opportunity for select social entrepreneurs to seed their projects, learn, grow and sustain their enterprises. It brings together a small number of social entrepreneurs for a five-month period with supporting members of the community to develop integrated business plans that can leverage the systemic impact of their startup ventures. These projects were selected through a competitive challenge, and winners will work closely with a team of topical experts and resource networks. Beyond the five-month “challenge” period, IN Santa Fe will continue to serve as a networking and resource support platform for these entrepreneurs.

Winners of the INSF fellowship are… Read the rest of this entry »

This post, on initial activities of SFIP’s collaboration with Story of Place Institute on the IN Santa Fe (Impact Network Santa Fe) impact investing project, originally appeared on the Santa Fe Startup Weekend blog:

“Social entrepreneurs recognize social problems and use entrepreneurial principles to organize, create and manage a venture to achieve social change. To be one takes courage, a keen mind and a big heart. —It’s no easy gig.”   – Octavious Murphy

Have an idea for something that could really benefit the well being of our community—or the world? Bring it to Santa Fe Startup Weekend!

At this year’s Santa Fe Startup Weekend, participants will get an introduction to thinking more broadly about the kind of social impact their emerging businesses can have.

IN Santa Fe (Impact Network Santa Fe) is championing the idea of “place sourced, impact investing,” to all current entrepreneurs and potential investors. IN Santa Fe’s design combines doing financially well with doing social good. Through the growing network being formed by IN Santa Fe Directors David Breecker and Nicholas Mang, emerging social enterprises can be aligned with potential impact investors to leverage social, environmental, and economic benefits within the communities they thrive in.

What’s different this year?

In addition to basic business coaching that all Startup Weekend events provide, social enterprise coaches will also be made available at Santa Fe Startup Weekend this year to help interested entrepreneurs in developing their “social impact plan” as an integrated part of their overall business concept. When participants get together to explore the value of their potential startups, they will be evaluated for more than just the bottom line. Judges this year will also evaluate those that are looking at overall impact on the society or group in which the venture seeks to market its product or service.

Through this year’s social entrepreneurship experiment, participants will not only get free mentorship, they have a chance to be chosen as a member of the IN Santa Fe “Social Entrepreneur Challenge,” to further learn about building their enterprise with free working space, startup support and connection to a growing network of local impact investors.

So to all those entrepreneurs who want to make a big difference in your community:  bring your ideas to Startup Weekend and join experts in the art and science of the business of doing good. Register here!

Read the rest of this entry »

SFIP’s Microgrid Systems Lab (MSL) recently took a significant step toward fulfilling the goal of integrating creative problem solving techniques with challenges and processes in other domains. The following post originally appeared in the MSL news blog on May 5, 2014:

In support of its human factors work on the DOE-India microgrid pilot feasibility study, MSL convened a cross-sector workshop of a dozen experts drawn from a broad range of  relevant disciplines and on-the-ground experience. The highly successful workshop was co-facilitated and hosted by the Santa Fe Art Institute (an affiliate of MSL partner institution the Santa Fe Innovation Park) and its director Sanjit Sethi, an expert in “design thinking” and its application to many problem-solving settings. It featured a user-centered design approach to the Human, Social, and Cultural (“HSC”) factors bearing on successful technology and energy projects in rural community settings. Joining Sanjit in leading the session were MSL General Manager David Breecker, and Christian Casillas, who recently completed his Ph.D. at the Energy and Resources Group of the University of California, Berkeley. Christian did his field work in community participatory energy planning in Nicaragua, and also has practical experience in India. Read the rest of this entry »

A team comprising SFIP’s Microgrid Systems Lab, the University of New Mexico’s Center for Emerging Energy Technologies, NM State University, and NM Tech has been selected to submit the New Mexico proposal to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science, under its current EPSCoR funding opportunity. DOE’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (DOE EPSCoR) is a federal-state partnership program designed to enhance the capabilities of designated states and territories to conduct sustainable and nationally competitive energy-related research. DOE EPSCoR addresses this mission by fostering competitions for scientific and engineering research in states and territories that have demonstrated a commitment to develop their research bases and to improve the quality of science and engineering research conducted at their universities and colleges. Read the rest of this entry »

SFIP’s Place Sourced Impact Investing project is now moving into implementation; and given the problems plaguing the financial sector, and its apparent inability to create true prosperity, this partnership with the Story of Place Institute may come at an opportune time. To quote Pavan Sukhdev of Corporation 2020, the market-centric economic model “…is recession-prone, leaves too many people unemployed, widens the gap between the rich and the poor, creates ecological scarcities that affect water and food, and generates envrironmental risks such as climate change.” We can do better.

Building on last Spring’s preparatory work, the PSII implementation strategy has two major components. First, it calls for the selection of a small group of pilot projects and social entrepreneurs, with whom we’ll work very closely to maximize their ventures’ potential returns across a broad range of capitals (e.g., financial, social, human, built, and natural), at the community scale.  Read the rest of this entry »

SFIP enjoyed some very favorable local press coverage last week, in the Santa Fe New Mexican and  Albuquerque Business First (summarized below). This is especially gratifying because SFIP, while global in its outlook and desired impact, works at the community scale; and we find that northern New Mexico and Santa Fe are often great test-beds for developing community-centric solutions.

In addition, SFIP has an economic development role to play in the local economy. Indeed, its genesis was as an economic development strategy for Santa Fe, posing the question:  Can a city do technology-based economic development without a research university to draw on?  And posing the answer:  let’s position Santa Fe as a globally recognized center for creative problem solving.  The original plan called for an ambitious physical facility, that would host leading organizations in residence for extended periods to assist them with their innovation challenges.  Then came the recession… Read the rest of this entry »

SFIP’s newest project, Wellness as a Complex System, embodies a simple but perhaps provocative proposal:

When it comes to social, cultural, and community factors in health and wellness, why not make the individual his or her own doctor?

The so-called “social determinants of health” are well-known to have a significant impact on a broad range of (or even all) disease outcomes. This effect is most evident in “behavioral diseases,” such as obesity/diabetes, that have behavior factors at their root (e.g., diet and exercise).

The U.S. spends $245 billion annually on diabetes care alone, and 17.6% of GDP on healthcare, and both are rising dramatically. We know a lot about what people do to make themselves sick, and what they can do to keep themselves well. Needless to say, it’s time for some innovative thinking about how we use this knowledge, and maybe even some tried-and-true user-centered design. Read the rest of this entry »

Anyone following SFIP’s Microgrid Systems Lab (MSL) knows how many good reasons there are to move toward this highly decentralized architecture in terms of efficiency, reduced greenhouse emissions, community engagement, and alleviating energy poverty in un-wired portions of the planet.

Now, a number of recent research reports and presentations have added impetus to the microgrid trend by addressing various aspects of the business case: the economics of microgrid deployment, the pace of development, the societal value of conversion, and the cost of inaction. We’ve summarized some of the most interesting below, beginning with the “big picture” of current grid costs and potential, and then moving on to microgrids’ role and value.

Economic benefit of Smart Grid efficiencies by 2030: $2 trillion

Estimated cost: $338 billion. Courtesy of George Arnold, national coordinator for smart grid interoperability at the National Institute for Standards and Technology. Given the role that microgrids can and will play as enabling infrastructure for many of the most valuable aspects of the smart grid revolution, we can can assign some meaningful portion of this projected $2 trillion efficiency to them, going forward. Read the rest of this entry »

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