Center for Science, Technology, and Society, News page

  •  Video: A Vision to Accelerate Economic Growth

    Wednesday, Mar. 13, 2013

    Quality livelihoods depend on access to energy.  Paul Meissner, Ph.D., GSBITM director, is joined by leading social entrepreneurs in clean energy to share findings from the Center’s recent field research. We will also unveil the latest edition of the Energy Map and our vision of the potential for innovative technical and business approaches to distributed energy.

    This new approach is informed by over 10 years of experience, with more than 170 social enterprises that have impacted the lives of over 80 million people.  As practitioners on a global scale, we predict that a convergence of technology and business model innovations will disrupt how off-grid energy is produced, distributed, and financed in the next 10 years.

  •  SAID Conference 2013 Features GSBI Alumni

    Monday, Feb. 25, 2013

    Come hear GSBI Online alumni Gemma Bulos with the Global Women's Water Initiative speak about "Maximizing Potential through Entrepreneurship and Education" at The Stanford Association for International Development's.

    Where: Stanford University

    When: Sat. March 2nd

    Sign Up:

  •  When Worlds Collide: Platform Technologies for Social Benefit

    Friday, Feb. 8, 2013


    Executive Director Thane Kreiner predicts “… in the next 10 years, the convergence of technology and business model innovations could disrupt how energy is produced, distributed, and priced – not just in the frontier markets of the developing world, but also in the developed world.”

    To read the article, click Here.

  •  Celebrating Holiday Cheer and Impact Investing

    Friday, Dec. 14, 2012

    Earlier this week the Center was delighted to host a holiday reception to celebrate the accomplishments of the last year, like the graduation of several GSBI Online cohorts, and the first year of our GSB Fellowship program.

    The main event of the evening was John Kohler's presentation of his new research proposal for a demand-dividend investment vehicle for impact investing.

    The Demand-Dividend project work will include final financing model design, a regression analysis on existing enterprises, and the creation of flexible term sheets.  The Argidius grant will fund the field-oriented phase - preparing to test the new financing model with between four and six enterprises beginning in early 2013.  Planning and initial diligence visits will occur in the autumn of this year.


    Two years ago we launched a dedicated Impact Capital initiative with the aim of preparing social enterprises to move beyond philanthropic grants to attract private investment capital.  Early work culminated with the release of a white paper, Coordinating Impact Capital in the summer of 2011.
    You can read more about the demand-dividend project in our press release.


  •  Finding myself in the Solar Revolution of Uganda

    Friday, Dec. 7, 2012

    Our own GSB Fellow, Kirsten Petersen, has been updating her blog on her experience working with GSBI Alumni, Solar Sister in Uganda. Her latest article "Finding myself in the Solar Revolution of Uganda" touches on her unique perspecitve as an up and coming Masters engineering student looking at distrubuted power in developing countries admidst her passion in solar photovoltaic and how the two can mix together for an amazing future career! 

    Click here to read the article. 

    Kirsten in Uganda


  •  There's More To Fighting Poverty Than Writing Big Checks And Claiming Tax Deductions

    Monday, Dec. 3, 2012

    Our Executive Director Thane Kreiner, was recently featured on in an article by Janet Novack. Here's a taste, "An onslaught of designated shopping days— Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday—have assaulted our senses, urgently urging us to buy gifts for all of the special people in our lives. Here in the heart of Silicon Valley, it’s easy to pine for the iPad Mini, that 55-inch flatscreen TV, or the latest Kindle. In this season, it’s easy to forget that nearly 4 billion people on our planet live in poverty, on a daily average of less than the cost of one Starbucks specialty coffee."

    You can read the rest of the article on by clicking here.

  •  Santa Clara University Welcomes Applications from Investment-Ready Social Enterprises to Attend GSBI Silicon Valley Training and Mentoring Program

    Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012

    SANTA CLARA, Calif., Nov. 1, 2012— Applications are now open for Santa Clara University’s Global Social Benefit Incubator (GSBI™), an 11-year-old program that helps social entrepreneurs create greater impact in their poverty-alleviating missions.

    This year, the program has been renamed GSBI Silicon Valley and revamped to focus on later-stage, investment-ready organizations with potential to reach significant scale. Up to 15 accepted enterprises will receive eight months of mentoring from Silicon Valley veterans, 10 days of intensive, on-campus education, and — for the first time this year — will be paired with at least one interested funding partner.

    GSBI Silicon Valley 2013 is seeking applications from proven social enterprises — those that have been able to reach large numbers of beneficiaries. Those selected will utilize their eight months in GSBI to develop skills and martial resources to achieve operational excellence and attract financing that enables rapid, effective expansion of impact. Qualifying criteria for applicants can be found on the GSBI website.

    GSBI Silicon Valley 2013 applications must be completed fully by Jan. 11, 2013. Ten to 15 successful applicants will be awarded scholarships valued at $25,000 each; the in-residence portion at Santa Clara University is scheduled for Aug. 15 to 23, 2013.

    The intensified focus reflects the GSBI’s goal of positively impacting one billion people living in poverty by 2020. The program’s new curriculum focuses on achieving significant scale, so alumni of GSBI are also encouraged to apply.

    “Last year, we launched GSBI Online in collaboration with the World Bank Development Marketplace to provide earlier-stage social enterprises the core training we’ve always provided through GSBI — establishing a business model, identifying a target market, and crafting distribution plans,” said Eric Carlson, Ph.D., director of the GSBI. “Now, to maximize the impact of our intensive GSBI mentoring and structured curriculum, we’re focusing on social enterprises with the greatest potential to lift vast numbers of people from poverty, and attract impact investors in the process.”

    Connecting Impact Investors to Build Stronger Enterprises

    Each participating enterprise in the 2013 cohort will be matched with one of the GSBI’s Impact Investment Partners. GSBI’s impact investor partners include AccionAcumen Fund, Beyond Capital Fund,The Eleos FoundationInvested Development, and Hub Ventures, among others.

    “Impact investors seek a more investment-ready pipeline of social enterprises,” said John Kohler, director of impact capital at the Center. “GSBI Silicon Valley will help social enterprises prepare for and find capital to support scaling of their enterprises.”

    GSBI Silicon Valley 2013

    Over the past 10 years, the GSBI has built an impressive network ofalumni, mentors, and other resources, all of which will be available to GSBI Silicon Valley 2013 participants. As in past years, the program will comprise four processes, which will be more advanced and customized: Application, pre-work, in-residence, and implementation.

    “GSBI has traditionally and successfully focused on fundamental business-model development,” said GSBI Program Manager Cassandra Thomassin. “GSBI Silicon Valley intensifies the focus on operational excellence to attract investments that expand already-proven business models.”

    Applicants must provide a recorded elevator pitch; a business plan; a one-year operating plan; and financial statements. Applicants will be evaluated based on a scoring matrix that includes: strength of mission, financial sustainability, potential for scale, potential for social impact, management capacity, and business model efficacy.

    Social enterprises focused on off-grid clean energy, health, and mobile applications for any sector are especially encouraged to apply.

    Top applicants will be interviewed in March 2013 and participants announced by early April. Each social enterprise will then be partnered online with two or three GSBI mentors to complete tailored pre-work exercises.

    About the GSBI
    The GSBI is the signature program of the Center for Science, Technology, and Society at Santa Clara University. The mission of the Center is to accelerate global, innovation-based entrepreneurship in service to humanity. For a decade, the GSBI has helped mission-driven enterprises build, sustain, and increase the reach and impact of their businesses. Collectively, alumni of the program have provided essential products and services to an estimated 74 million underserved people worldwide. More than 90 percent of the organizations are still operating. It is currently funded in part by a grant from the Skoll Foundation, corporate gifts from Applied Materials, and individual donors. For more information,

    About Santa Clara University
    Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California’s Silicon Valley, offers its more than 8,800 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, theology, and engineering, plus master’s and law degrees and engineering Ph.D.s. Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master’s universities, California’s oldest operating higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. For more information, see

    Media Contacts
    Deborah Lohse | SCU Media Relations | |            408-554-5121      
    Erin Berkenmeier | GSBI Marketing Manager | |             408-551-6048      

  •  Husk Power Systems Set to Scale Reliable and Renewable Energy Solution to Underserved Rural Areas around the World

    Friday, Oct. 26, 2012

    We are excited to share this news from GSBI Alumni Husk Power Systems!  

    Husk Power Systems, Inc. (HPS), an innovative company providing renewable and affordable decentralized energy solution to underserved communities, is pleased to announce that the company has raised Series A equity financing of US $5 million from co-investors Bamboo (Oasis Fund) Finance, Acumen Fund, and LGT Venture Philanthropy.  Acumen Fund and Bamboo Finance led the Series A financing process along with LGT Venture Philanthropy. DFJ and CISCO will remain invested in the company having converted their existing investment to equity capital.
    “HPS continues to demonstrate the commercial viability of providing affordable electricity to low income communities. We believe their model can be replicated in many countries. We are excited about their progress and investing in their ongoing growth,” said Jean-Philippe de Schrevel, Chief Executive Officer of Bamboo Finance.
    HPS has been a pioneer in using 100% biomass waste (rice husks, straws and other crop straws etc.) gasification process for generating electricity and distributing power directly to households.  The company has successfully implemented 80 mini-power plants that serve over 200,000 people in more than 300 villages. This is no small feat and this de-centralized model of electricity generation and distribution was validated on July 31, 2012 when 670 million Indians on the centralized grid suffered blackouts ( while 200,000 people served by HPS mini-grids had their lights on. With this new equity capital, HPS aims to rapidly expand its operations in rural India and East Africa and power the lives of over 10 million people in rural areas. The company is also looking to raise up to US $4 million of term loan to support its expansions organically and through its “franchise” partners.
    “Never before has the need for safe energy alternatives been greater and it’s remarkable to be a part of what Husk Power has been able to accomplish in recent years,” said Sachindra Rudra, Director of Acumen Fund India. “This additional investment represents an important step in Husk’s evolution as it continues to scale and provide affordable and reliable electricity across rural areas that need it most.”
    “While Series A financing positions HPS to exponentially scale its modular energy solution, it is paramount to understand that such scaling would be practically impossible without the right mix of capital that consists of equity and debt capital and equally importantly grant capital necessary to address systemic issues like training rural talents, and discovering low-cost smart metering and grid solution”, said Manoj Sinha, Co-Founder of Husk Power Systems.  HPS formed strategic partnership with Shell Foundation in 2008 and has received grant funding. The company also partnered with Overseas Private Investment Corporation to secure low rate term-loan in June 2012.
    Simon Desjardins, who manages Shell Foundation's Access to Energy Program, said: "Husk Power is a global pioneer in the rural electrification sector and is proving that de-centralized power provision is a viable model to reach rural households and businesses. Their recent fundraise will enable significant scale in India and Africa that will further validate their approach and create impact."  
    The company’s expansion strategy will focus on leveraging its core competency of providing very low cost renewable energy at community scale and addressing systemic challenges like training a large number of rural people for running and managing power plants through Husk Power University.  In addition, HPS plans replicate its model in multiple locations by expanding its “Franchise” network in different geographies. Going forward, HPS will utilize a combination of biomass power plants (with larger plants of size of 100-250KW) with AC grid and Solar powered plants with DC grid as appropriate. The company is actively looking for talents and partners with passion to help achieve the ambitious growth targets of installing over 2,000 mini-power plants.
    "This long awaited closure of financing strengthens and validates the growing confidence in the market of rural electrification using “ecosystem approach” that Husk Power Systems started. We plan to thrive in the diversity of our efforts and build on the platform we have created in past 5 years. Thus far we have been a good promise. This financing round will go a long way in making us a solution for the world”, said Gyanesh Pandey, the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Husk Power Systems.
    About Husk Power Systems:
    Husk Power Systems is a rural empowerment enterprise. The company focuses on inclusive rural development on the backbone of renewable energy solution. Unlike any other effort in the world, it creates a self-sustaining ecosystem in the villages it serves, enabling economic development along with environmental protection, physical well-being and strengthening of the rural communities. A humble effort spearheaded by locals from the communities served, HPS strives to touch more than 10 million lives over the next five years, in rural areas across the world. For more information, please visit
    About Bamboo Finance:
    Bamboo Finance is a commercial investment firm managing 250M USD representing a unique portfolio of direct investments around the world with offices in Bogota, Singapore, San Francisco, Luxembourg and Geneva. Bamboo specializes in the financing of entrepreneurship globally. We use a market-oriented approach to deliver social value environmental value and financial returns to investors. Please visit for more information.
    About Acumen Fund:
    Acumen Fund is working to create a world beyond poverty by investing in social enterprises, emerging leaders and breakthrough ideas. We invest patient capital in business models that deliver critical goods and services to the world’s poor, improving the lives of millions. Since 2001, Acumen Fund has globally invested more than $80 million in 72 companies. We are also working to build a global community of emerging leaders that believe in creating a more inclusive world through the tools of both business and philanthropy. Please visit for more information.
    About LGT Venture Philanthropy:
    LGT Venture Philanthropy is an impact investor supporting organizations with outstanding social and environmental impact. Our team in five continents strives to increase the sustainable quality of life of less advantaged people by inspiring clients for active philanthropy, providing individualized philanthropic advice and investment implementation. Our broad range of clients benefits from the experience, systems, processes and networks built by implementing the philanthropic engagement of the Princely Family of Liechtenstein/LGT Group. Please visit for more information.


  •  Santa Clara University Team Selected to Design New Capital-Investment Approach for Developing-World Entrepreneurs

    Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012

    Team of SCU Students and Silicon Valley industry veterans among five winners of the  Argidius-ANDE Finance Challenge

    SANTA CLARA, Calif., Oct. 17, 2012 – A team of Silicon Valley industry veterans and students at Santa Clara University’s Center for Science, Technology, and Society (CSTS) has been selected to design and implement a new investment tool with the potential to aid thousands of small and growing businesses in emerging economies.

    This two-year project is one of five winners of the Argidius-ANDE Finance Challenge, a highly competitive international competition administered by the Aspen Institute Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE).  The Santa Clara team will receive a €200,000 grant to support the design, analysis, and field-testing of the new investment vehicle.

    The Problem: Angels but not Investors

    Financing for small and growing businesses in developing economies is constrained by the low level of return from investments already made to date.  Most “impact investors” have seen their investment holding period lengthen from 3-5 years to 7-10 years.  Without more understanding and confidence in the ability of social enterprises to provide return, equity investors are hesitant or unable to commit new funds.

    Achieving reliable and repeated returns would make not only existing dollars available to new investments, but it would also improve investor confidence to commit new capital to what are now seen as difficult or ‘frontier’ markets.  So far, debt and equity mechanisms have failed to offset the risks inherent in developing markets with enough reward to encourage new investors.

    For small enterprises promising moderate (7% - 14%) returns from moderate ($25K - $250K) investment amounts, a new solution is needed.  CSTS believes a risk-capital investment vehicle that is a hybrid between low-return debt and high-return equity is needed – and could encourage significant funding currently sitting on the sidelines to jump into emerging markets.

    The Solution: Demand-Dividend Investment Vehicle

    Responding to interest in a new model, CSTS Impact Capitalprogram director John Kohler has begun work on a financing concept.  The Demand-Dividend project work will include final financing model design, a regression analysis on existing enterprises, and the creation of flexible term sheets.  The Argidius grant will fund the field-oriented phase - preparing to test the new financing model with between four and six enterprises beginning in early 2013.  Planning and initial diligence visits will occur in the autumn of this year.

    CSTS is uniquely positioned to receive this grant. They launched a dedicated Impact Capital initiative in 2010 with the aim of preparing social enterprises to move beyond philanthropic grants to attract private investment capital.  Early work culminated with the release of a white paper, Coordinating Impact Capital in the summer of 2011.

    John Kohler recently presented on the Demand Dividend concept at SOCAP12 in San Francisco on October 3, 2012. Visit John's SOCAP12profile for more information.

    Taking the VC out of the Valley

    Successful demonstration of a Demand Dividend investment vehicle will create ‘economic pull’ by delivering what impact investors do not readily achieve today: moderate to high return with a more-rapid capital cycle. 

    CSTS has received expressions of interest from 11 impact funding sources and, with demonstrated success, will encourage these funds, as well as its many fund contacts through ANDE, Toniic, Oxfam and its Silicon Valley network, to use the Demand Dividend. The Center also will be co-leading an examination on alternative investment being conducted at the University of Michigan Law School, which will be instructive to the Argidius-ANDE Finance Challenge results.

    About the Center for Science, Technology, and Society
    The mission of the Center for Science, Technology, and Society is to accelerate global, innovation-based entrepreneurship in service to humanity. Through an array of programs including its signature Global Social Benefit Incubator (GSBI™), the Center engages an international network of business, investment capital, and technical resources to build the capacity of social enterprises around the world. As a Center of Distinction at Santa Clara University, the Center leverages its programs to inspire faculty and students with real-world case studies, distinctive curricula, and unique research opportunities, advancing the University's vision of creating a more just, humane, and sustainable world. More information 

    Media Contacts
    Deborah Lohse | SCU Media Relations | |            408-554-5121      
    Erin Berkenmeier | CSTS | |            408-551-6048      

  •  Applied Materials Announces Commitment with CSTS at the Clinton Global Initiative

    Monday, Oct. 1, 2012

    At The Clinton Global Initiative 2012, Applied Materials announced their commitment with Santa Clara University’s Center of Science, Technology and Society (CSTS) as part of a continued effort to help social entrepreneurs improve their ability to scale (grow) their business and create significantly more impact. The partnership coincides well with this year’s CGI theme of “Designing for Impact” since support from Applied Materials enables CSTS to provide business model and organizational capacity training, as well as expert mentoring, to 18 social entrepreneurs in India and China over the next three years. 

    CSTS is working on a few fronts in this partnership. We are updating our Energy Map which was launched one year ago to help reserachers and practitioners understand the industry of alternative energy in developing countries. As mentioned, we are also excited to have the support of Applied Materials so we can continue to help India, which is well represented in our program, and expand into China. 

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