What’s Incubating this Summer?

As the summer heat sets in, we’re keeping an eye on what’s heating up in the cleantech world.  We took a look at the expansive Incubatenergy Network and our community of industry partners. The Incubatenergy Network works in partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). This network aims to foster collaboration among the many incubators/accelerators, and to provide cleantech startups with the resources, connections, and support they need to overcome the technological and commercialization Valleys of Death. EPRI has compiled some key insights drawn from the Incubatenergy Network and outlines some incubator best practices in their recent report. Cleantech incubators serve a critical role in advancing energy technologies, and developing other innovative approaches to the changing mobility landscape and today’s pressing issues.

To illustrate, we have compiled a list of some of the top incubators in cleantech. Select the links below to take a look at some of our key partners’ portfolio companies:

These incubators act as the pipeline of innovation into NREL’s flagship technology incubator, IN², by referring their best and brightest to apply to the program.  This summer, the IN² team and its selection Board is scouring through the many promising applications, and this September expects to announce the next 5 companies invited into the portfolio. Like previous rounds, Round 4 of IN² will feature companies with game-changing energy solutions for commercial buildings.

In other exciting news, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Energy I-Corps, lead by NREL’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center, has just kicked off the 7th cohort and teams from across the national laboratory system are fired-up to explore the commercial potential of their technologies. Earlier this month, national laboratory researchers and industry mentors gathered in Colorado to begin a journey of customer discovery using the lean startup methodology to kick off the 8-week entrepreneurial training program and accelerator.

Idaho National Lab (INL), Argonne National Lab (ANL), Oak Ridge National Lab (ORNL), Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBL), and Fermi National Accelerator Lab (FNAL) are participating in Cohort 7, and we are excited to see how the teams will ignite their business models and determine their best product-market fit.

NREL isn’t the only national lab incubating innovation this summer.  At LBNL the Cyclotron Road fellowship program supports business-minded scientists who are advancing their technologies for global impact. Learn more about the program and the newest innovators in the 4th Cohort.

Chain Reaction Innovations (CRI) at ANL is funded by DOE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) and seeks to support CRI participants with assistance developing business strategies, conducting market research, and finding long-term financing and potential commercial partners. As AMO Director Rob Ivester points out, “we need entrepreneurs in cleantech to drive innovation, and we need a stronger connection between national laboratories and entrepreneurs to accelerate that.” The 2-year CRI fellowship is helping to bridge that gap. Check out the innovators who have been recently welcomed into the program.

At ORNL the Innovation Crossroads program is a similar platform for accelerating game-changing technology. This early stage entrepreneurial fellowship selects 5 top innovators that will work towards bringing ideas from R&D to the marketplace. Have an energy innovation? Innovation Crossroads will begin accepting applications for Cohort 3 in September!  Stay in touch and learn more.

Advanced energy technologies don’t just incubate themselves. It takes a village of innovators, investors, and incubators to bolster the cleantech ecosystem and provide the necessary support to bring them to market. When the heat become unbearable this summer, look to the accelerator programs and incubators to chill out with some very cool technologies.  one day, the collective impact of these technologies and the energy innovation ecosystem just might help cool down our warming planet.


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