Accelerating Cleantech Solutions: Inside the Innovation Incubator

The continuing emergence of new and innovative support programs for technology development is reflective of the many challenges associated with commercializing technology. In cleantech especially, being largely hardware focused and capital intensive, the search for the ideal commercialization-focused program mix continues.

A recent NREL published white paper examines some of the models and partnership structures emerging to help accelerate clean energy technologies from idea to market. One such program that launched in 2014 is the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator – or IN2, a five-year $10M program funded by the Wells Fargo Foundation and co-administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). A first of its’ kind public-private partnership between a foundation and National Laboratory, IN2 is a technology incubator focused on accelerating building efficiency technology solutions by providing technical development assistance, validation, and potential field demonstration opportunities.

Now in its second year, the first round of companies selected into the program are nearing completion of technical projects. These technologies include an all-iron flow battery, a data center cooling solution, a peel and stick metering sensor, and a window-film application.

Recognizing that no technology or company follow the same path to commercialization, each of the companies brought into the IN2 program receive customized technical assistance based on current development needs. The program supports companies in the bench-scale, prototype, and commercially ready stages and provides up to $250,000 per award. Examples of assistance include modeling and simulation to inform impact in specific market segments, laboratory testing and performance validation to refine system design, and real-world pilot demonstrations to assist in conveying the solutions value to early adopters.

For further insights on the type of projects and technical support given to progress each technology, read our case studies on the Round 1 IN2 companies:

An additional 6 companies joined the program in Round 2 of the program in November 2015. Stay tuned for detail as these projects get underway.