The Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster (RTCC) has a lot on its agenda for 2017, from increasing membership and new hires to new programs and events such as a corporate venture conference, Executive Director Susan Sanford says.

In a year-end interview with WRAL Techwire, Sanford, who took over the executive director position from Jennifer Bosser, who resigned to take another position.

Sanford had been Director of Membership Development and Engagement for the group. Previously, she was the executive director at Futures for Kids (F4K) and built the organization from a start-up to a sustainable organization through creating and cultivating relationships over her 10-year tenure.

A major goal of the organization in 2017 is too boost its membership from 54 industry players to 100. It doubled membership from January to June in 2016. “We’re looking at doubling it again this year,” she says.

Entrepreneurship a focus

She adds the organization also wants to increase connections between members. “It’s about getting people in the same room together for cooperation,” she says.

“Entrepreneurship is also something we want to highlight this year. We’re planning a corporate venture event for late spring. The idea is to bring in corporate venture reps to introduce them to the cleantech talent in the region.”

One of the RTCC’s ongoing missions is to promote economic development and the creation of cleantech cluster jobs.

RTCC wants to see more national coverage of entrepreneurship in the region. “Cleantech is such a diverse industry,” she says. “Large companies, entrepreneurial companies.” The RTCC membership started out with utility companies, but “It’s growing. A lot of tech companies supply utilities.”

Another area of interest in 2017 is a short term project to highlight smart cities. “We want to identify local governments doing smart city projects and use that to promote the region. Our goal is to connect local governments and real estate developers so they understand what is possible.”

Two new RTCC programs will launch in 2017. One will be a members-only event focused on the the marketplace, bringing together people making decisions about cleantech projects underway and pain points.

The second is a smart cities bus tour. “Instead of just hosting another smart cities conference, we’ll sponsor a late spring or early summer bus tour for local government leaders so they can see smart cities in the region.”

The group, which is industry funded, has a long term goal of finding a space for a demonstration site. “We want to bring our stakeholders together to find a place where we can deploy cleantech.”