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Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator Awards More Than $1 Million in Cleantech Grants


Program recognizes accelerators, incubators and university initiatives supporting clean-energy innovation

The Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator (IN2), funded by Wells Fargo Foundation and co-administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, today announced more than $1 million in support of eight projects and 19 organizations to address gaps in clean-energy technology development and commercialization.

The IN2 Channel Partner Awards Program is designed to foster the development of a robust cleantech ecosystem by funding innovative accelerators, incubators, and universities, and promoting a collaborative network of knowledge sharing.

“The Channel Partner Awards Program supports IN2’s ultimate goal of accelerating the development and deployment of clean technologies by encouraging a strong, multi-stakeholder ecosystem that will collectively drive innovation and sustainability,” said Mary Wenzel, head of Environmental Affairs and Sustainability at Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE: WFC). “Each of the IN2 Channel Partner Award recipients has displayed a talent for innovation and disruption, and a commitment to clean technology.”

IN 2 Channel Partner Awards recipients

The California Institute of Technology (Pasadena, Calif.) partnered with Clean Energy Trust (Chicago) to establish the Rocket Fund Mid-West, an interstate partnership bringing together sustainability-focused accelerators, utilities and universities in a community consortium to help guide vulnerable Very Early Stage ventures through critical early stages. Pioneered in California, the Rocket Fund Mid-West will offer a solution for one of the most intractable problems preventing cleantech innovations from reaching the marketplace – the lack of funding and necessary commercial partners for building, demonstrating and validating “pre-products” in the real world.

Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh) partnered with Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.) to launch a new Center for Cleantech Entrepreneurial Excellence. The goal of the center is to better understand how cleantech/energy innovation and entrepreneurship differ from other technology sectors. At a regional level, the center will examine key success factors in early-stage company development and how societal outcomes can be enhanced as a result.

Cleantech Group (San Francisco) to leverage its annual Cleantech Forum to capture key discussion points and identify themes to help further inform the direction of the IN2 program as it considers expanding into the food-systems space.

Activation Energy (San Francisco) in support of the Cyclotron Road (Berkeley, Calif.) program to develop a network leveraging Artificial Intelligence to identify a comprehensive list of strategic partners for emerging clean energy technologies to disrupt the current partnering and investment model for bringing new technologies to market, which relies heavily on human networking. Working in partnership with Moxley Holdings and Rho AI, their model will identify future partners based on current investments, partnering trends and natural language analysis of public statements.

Innosphere (Fort Collins, Colo.) to launch Scaleup Colorado, a multi-year plan designed to systematically address three specific problems holding back Colorado’s science and technology ecosystem from growing at a higher rate and creating greater economic impact. These challenges include the need to grow Colorado’s technology GDP by growing startup support capacity; improving the success rate of early-stage startup companies; and helping companies grow from startups to companies with more than $50 million in revenue per year in an environment where there is limited access to capital.

Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator partnered with ACRE (Brooklyn, N.Y.), Clean Energy Trust (Chicago), Greentown Learn (Somerville, Mass.), and NextEnergy (Detroit) to establish a standard for measuring and reporting the economic, environmental and social impact of the portfolio companies within their network. The team will leverage the incubator’s Just Impact 2016 report and framework, and conduct individual research within organizations, to evolve a common framework for training their staff and portfolio companies and measuring and reporting on their individual impact results.

NextEnergy (Detroit) partnered with Prospect Silicon Valley (San Jose, Calif.) to ensure that the cleantech potential of CASE (Connected, Autonomous, Shared, Electrified) mobility solutions are fully realized by entering into a sister-city partnership between Detroit and San Jose to address two main challenges — connecting a cleantech innovation pipeline to industry players and market opportunities, and bringing private sector/industry partners together with government and nongovernment organization service providers to encourage a focus on serving low- to moderate-income market segments.

Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship at Rice University (Houston), Austin Technology Incubator at University of Texas-Austin  (Austin, Texas), Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station Clean Energy Incubator  (College Station, Texas), and Texas State University ) (San Marco, Texas) to collaborate on a series of programs and initiatives that will help catalyze the next generation of cleantech entrepreneurs and serve as a feeder to the IN2 program. The “IN2Bound Cleantech Accelerator Program” will focus on educating entrepreneurs and accelerating startups, and connect them to a network of experts who can provide technical support and mentorship.

“IN2 has engaged stakeholders from universities, incubators and accelerators in an effort to give a voice to local community challenges and solutions and to create a strong, collaborative ecosystem of startup support across the country,” said Richard Adams, director of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. “Our mission is to nurture an ecosystem where more startups and innovators receive the technical and financial backing, as well as business mentoring and encouragement they need at their earliest stages in order to advance toward commercialization of their technologies.”

The IN2 Channel Partner Awards Program was established with $5 million of committed funding to be distributed over four years. In 2016, the program supported more than 33 channel partners, encouraging them to engage with their local communities and play an active role in helping develop the IN2 ecosystem, which currently includes 20 IN2 portfolio companies, more than 40 channel partners, and a variety of external clean technology stakeholders across the U.S. In August 2016, IN2 convened a summit comprised of channel partners, IN2 stakeholders, investors and subject matter experts for in-depth discussions on promising clean technology developments and disruptions, strategic expansion of the IN2 ecosystem and future initiatives for the IN2 Channel Partner Awards Program. For more information on the awards program, please visit

About the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator (IN 2 )

IN2 is a $30 million clean-technology incubator and platform funded by the Wells Fargo Foundation. Co-administered by and housed at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, IN2’s mission is to speed the path to market for early-stage, clean-technology entrepreneurs. Companies selected for participation in the program receive up to $250,000 in non-dilutive funding from Wells Fargo, technical support and validation from experts at NREL’s facilities, and the opportunity to beta-test at a Wells Fargo facility or with a strategic program partner. Launched in 2014 with an initial focus on supporting scalable solutions to reduce the energy impact of commercial buildings, IN2 is expanding its focus in 2018 to support innovation in sectors such as transportation, commercial buildings, food systems, energy storage, and others with the ultimate goal of fostering smart and connected communities of the future.

About Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) is a diversified, community-based financial services company with $1.9 trillion in assets. Wells Fargo’s vision is to satisfy our customers’ financial needs and help them succeed financially. Founded in 1852 and headquartered in San Francisco, Wells Fargo provides banking, insurance, investments, mortgage, and consumer and commercial finance through more than 8,300 locations, 13,000 ATMs, the internet ( and mobile banking, and has offices in 42 countries and territories to support customers who conduct business in the global economy. With approximately 268,000 team members, Wells Fargo serves one in three households in the United States. Wells Fargo & Company was ranked No. 25 on Fortune’s 2017 rankings of America’s largest corporations. The Chronicle of Philanthropy ranked Wells Fargo No. 3 on its most recent list of the top corporate cash philanthropists. In 2016, Wells Fargo donated $281.3 million to 14,900 nonprofits and Wells Fargo team members volunteered 1.73 million hours with 50,000 nonprofits. Wells Fargo’s corporate social responsibility efforts are focused on three priorities: economic empowerment in underserved communities, environmental sustainability, and advancing diversity and social inclusion. News, insights and perspectives from Wells Fargo are also available at Wells Fargo Stories.

Wells Fargo Media
E.J. Bernacki, 415-840-4469
IN 2 Media
Danielle Calfo, 720-833-5914

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