30th Industry Growth Forum: Highlights and a Bright Outlook

Did you attend the Industry Growth Forum? Tell us about your experience!

“The Industry Growth Forum is a great gathering of innovators who are working to solve some of the biggest problems that the world is facing today.”

-Agnes Dasewicz
Rockefeller Foundation Fellow and Former Director of Private Capital and Microenterprise USAID

How do we bring the energy innovations of the future to the market? That was the question being asked this year at the 30th Industry Growth Forum (IGF). It is a question we have been asking for years and one which has generated some of the most innovative ideas in the history of the cleantech industry. This year’s Forum was focused on connection and how the right ones can foster collaboration within the cleantech community. It was a question we asked people like IGF keynote speaker and Founder of DBL Partners Nancy Pfund, Colorado Senators Michael Bennett and Cory Gardner, and Shell Gamechanger Global Manager Lene Hviid, and it was the question that was hanging in the air during every one of the meetings that took place between May 3rd and 4th this year. Again – How do we bring the energy products of the future to the market?

Within each attendee’s answer lay a common key – collaboration.  Every startup has a unique way of getting to market. The variables are far too complex to design one simple strategy, but the one thing every company has in common is the need for valuable relationships throughout the industry. So how does the IGF help connect the cleantech ecosystem?

Meetings & Attendance

The 30th Forum ended with a record 1,028 meetings scheduled. Hypothetically, if 1% of those meetings turn into relationships that result in an investment of one million dollars each, then over ten million dollars will have been invested in the cleantech industry. Based on past Forums, that would be a conservative amount (since 2003, companies that have presented at the IGF have collectively raised over $6.4 Billion). It is a great honor for us to be able to facilitate and witness these connections, and we would like to thank every one of the 492 attendees for approaching the Forum with so much enthusiasm and energy.


The cleantech industry is full of visionary leaders but this year’s IGF speakers were truly thought leaders. DBL Partners Founder Nancy Pfund gave an inspiring perspective on her venture capital experiences, early investments in companies like Tesla, and a look ahead at the important role that the circular economy will play. The “The Power of Collaboration: Innovation, Investment & Impact” panel highlighted strategic investments made through connections at the IGF, the value of collaborative partnerships, and new partnerships forged as a result of connecting with the expansive cleantech community. And to top it all off, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Shell announced a new partnership for a joint accelerator program.  As a global energy company, Shell is leveraging NREL and other leaders in the advanced energy economy to incubate innovative solutions to our growing energy issues. This new program will look to accelerate the pathway to market for exciting new technologies, stay tuned for more details.

Bipartisanship in Energy

Collaboration can sometimes be strongest when it’s done across the aisle, where differences are set aside to envision what is best for the community.  The final programming for the IGF featured a warm fireside chat between NREL Laboratory Director, Martin Keller, and U.S. Senators Cory Gardner and Michael Bennett, of Colorado.  The Senators shared their hopes for Colorado, what keeps them up at night, and encouraged the investment community to continue supporting the amazing innovation developed in the cleantech sector.

Emerging Markets Day

Emerging Markets Day (EMD) was also a resounding success. Thanks to all the attendees and session investors who donated their time and congratulations to EMD Best Venture winner Solstice Energy Solutions and People’s Choice winner Emrgy Inc.

Winner Congratulations

The 30 presenting companies covered topics ranging from clean energy consumer platforms to biofuels distilled from commercial kitchen waste.  We would like to congratulate IGF Best Venture winner, for their excellent presentation and business model. Congratulations to Outstanding Venture winners Solstice Energy Solutions and Chakratec, and People’s Choice winner, Infinite Cooling. Thank you for your hard work in creating the energy systems we will all come to rely on. Meet the 2018 Emerging Markets Day and Industry Growth Forum winners and other stellar presenting companies.

The 2019 Emerging Markets Day will take place on May 8th followed by the Industry Growth Forum on May 9th and 10th in Denver, CO. Stay tuned for more.

Did you attend the Industry Growth Forum? Tell us about your experience!


All readers are encouraged to leave comments. While all points of view are welcome on the NREL Industry Growth Forum blog, only comments that are courteous and on-topic will be posted. All comments will be reviewed, and NREL reserves the right to post comments at its discretion.

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