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Austin Cleantech Guru to Be Kleiner EIR

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers has recruited a new entrepreneur-in-residence to work in its Department of Energy program, which aims to commercialize clean energy technologies coming out of national labs. Kleiner’s representative for the program will be Joel Serface, the current director of the Austin Clean Energy Incubator, we’ve learned.

A source close to the situation said that Serface plans to transition out of his role at the incubator over the next six weeks; Austin Clean Energy, meanwhile, plans to open up a nationwide search for Serface’s replacement. Prior to his job in Austin, Serface worked at several venture firms, including as a partner at Eastman Ventures, the venture arm of the Eastman Kodak company; as a director at Sierra Ventures; and as a principal at Alliant Partners.

In his new role as an EIR for Kleiner, Serface will work with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo., to find technologies to commercialize. The other firm-lab partnerships are ARCH Venture Partners, which will team up with Sandia National Laboratory, and Foundation Capital, whose entrepreneur will work at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

The DOE will provide $100,000 for each entrepreneur; the venture sponsor will then match that funding. Each firm will have one entrepreneur-in-residence at their assigned lab at a time, with the hope of spinning out a company in three to four months. At that point, the venture firm will put into residence their next entrepreneur to begin the process all over again. Once an entrepreneur has identified a technology for commercialization, he or she, in concert with the sponsoring venture firm, will negotiate a license for the technology.

Serface has been helping startups negotiate licensing and commercialization deals at the incubator for almost two years, so the experience shouldn’t be too different for him. Given his background in venture investing, he should have a good idea of what types of deals to look for.

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