Autodesk Innovates by Seeking Unconventional Cleantech Partnerships

In 2009, Susan Gladwin, Senior Global Program Manager at Autodesk launched the Autodesk Clean Tech Partner Program with the objective to assist cleantech startups through deployment of Autodesk digital prototyping software.

As Autodesk’s cleantech initiative global lead, Susan Gladwin is responsible for leading the company’s cleantech program and industry strategy. In this role, Ms. Gladwin manages Autodesk’s partnerships with cleantech companies and stakeholders in North America, Europe, and Asia, and tracks the sector’s sustainability best practices.

Recently, Ms. Gladwin spoke with Emily Chan, sustainability strategist at Cleantech Group about Autodesk’s role in Cleantech Forum’s Entrepreneur Showcase in San Francisco and the company’s approach to driving sustainable technology adoption. At the upcoming Cleantech Forum, Susan Gladwin will also sit on the panel, ROI Meets H2O: In Search of Real Value in the Water Technology Market, a session that will explore market opportunities for innovative water technologies.

E.C.: Autodesk is sponsoring the Entrepreneur Showcase at Cleantech Forum San Francisco 2013.  What does Autodesk look for when selecting clean technology partners?

S.G.: We believe that partnering with clean technology innovators can play a major role in bringing clean technology products and solutions to market faster and more profitably, thereby accelerating solutions to environmental problems. We bring companies into the Autodesk Clean Tech Partner Program who have great ideas and are ready to benefit from the power of the design and engineering technology we provide them to visualize, analyze, and simulate their solutions. The program is available to companies in North America, Europe, Israel, Japan, and Singapore. We accept applications at autodesk.com/cleantech.

E.C.: This year’s Forum is about the intersection of corporate sustainability and cleantech. How does Autodesk think about the connection between its Clean Tech Partner Program and its sustainability activities in Buildings and Infrastructure, and Green Products and Design?  How does the company articulate the value of investing in cleantech to shareholders and the public?

S.G.: The goal of the Autodesk Clean Tech Partner Program is to support the efforts, innovations, and environmental advancements of clean technology pioneers. We engage in a dialogue with our Clean Tech Partners on how we might mutually advance our respective sustainability goals.

For example, we evaluate Clean Tech Partner companies whose solutions could make Autodesk facilities more sustainable and deploy those solutions where it makes sense to do so. And, we work closely with our Clean Tech Partners to inform them how Autodesk tools can support making their products and solutions more sustainably designed.

Investing in the clean tech industry and sponsoring events like the Cleantech Forum’s Entrepreneur Showcase allows us to discover and develop relationships with new companies and new technology outside the traditional Autodesk channels.

E.C.: Which Autodesk Clean Tech Partner might come as a surprise to our readers?

S.G.: Tesla Motors is an Autodesk Clean Tech Partner and uses Autodesk® Alias® Surface software to build prototypes for their cars. Tesla’s goal is to accelerate the world’s transition to electric mobility with a full range of increasingly affordable electric cars, thus reducing our dependence on oil. This fits in nicely with our program goal of providing the best software tools available to further the innovations that will ultimately make our world a better place.

E.C.: Susan, you’ll be speaking on the panel, ROI Meets H2O: In Search of Real Value in the Water Technology Market.  Can you give us a preview of some interesting water technologies Autodesk has been working with recently?

S.G.: One that I find especially intriguing is NBD Technologies. Informed by the principles of biomimicry, they are looking at how the Namib Desert beetle draws water from the air to create nano-scale surfaces to enhanced water condensation as a way of sourcing more freshwater.