After the encouraging results of the workshop we held at ASU SkySong on March 7, we have been intensely focusing on next steps for DBI. Brad and I have been taking a class at SkySong on Sustainable Launch Prep Entrepreneurship to try and hammer out our ideas about where to go next.
We think we have a good handle on immediate next steps: Sam is nearly finished with his legal and regulatory analysis at the Federal, State, and Local levels. That paper will be available here once it's complete. We have other ideas for projects that we hope to connect to the right students.
Also, based on the positive feedback we've received from the biofuels stakeholders we've connected with, we are planning to move forward with the formation of an Arizona-based non-profit, and hope to receive a charity status designation from the IRS to incentivize donors.
This is a big mental and practical step for us: we are making a commitment to move from being an informal "project" to becoming a legitimate entity, with a specific purpose. Our goal will be to provide the "glue" to connect the various commercial, political, academic and individual biofuels stakeholders. At the risk of beating a metaphor to death, DBI is leaving "beta" and is entering version 1.0.
In the short term, the low-hanging WVO fruit is available now. We just need to decide, as a community, that it is a "good thing", and then do it! There are commercial (and coop!) producers in this space and they need support. In the "project phase" we have already been able to help make connections in local government with key departments and decision makers. We need to keep this dialog going.
We were very excited to learn about plans for a Prescott-based biodiesel coop. We connected with Paul Katan and Michael Freeman (Who's who posts to come!) at the workshop and there is a great opportunity to work together on goals that are mutually beneficial.
We are discussing the development of a "best practices" document that can be shared not only with individual producers and coops, but also with the relevant city, county and state agencies. "Flying under the radar" is an approach that may work on a (very) limited scale, but to have a substantial, positive impact we need to get "rough consensus" and then get to work!
In the long term, we believe there is tremendous opportunity in this space to connect world-class research institutions, industry, political support and grass roots enthusiasm. If successful, we hope to assist in the development of a regional biofuels infrastructure that is self-sustaining, environmentally responsible, and energy independent.