Energy Department Invests $3.2 Million to Support Clean Energy Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs

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CHICAGO, IL - Secretary Moniz today announced $3.2 million to launch the National Incubator Initiative for Clean Energy, which will create a national support network to serve the clean energy small business and entrepreneur community, providing critical technical assistance and training services in order to bring these businesses and entrepreneurs closer to market readiness. The Initiative will establish a suite of technological and training resources, connect critical industry and energy sector partners, enhance incubator best practices, and increase access to information about industry resources to advance innovative clean energy technologies emerging from universities and federal laboratories.

“Small businesses and entrepreneurs make crucial contributions to our nation’s economy every day,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “With the right tools, these businesses and entrepreneurs can make an even bigger contribution to the development of advanced clean energy technologies. This initiative will drive innovation and foster cooperation in the clean energy business community, further advancing our clean energy economy and bringing the U.S. closer to its low carbon future.”

“This funding will help to support the growth of over 100 new clean tech jobs in Chicago, a sector that is increasingly vital to our competitiveness in the global economy,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “This effort will bridge the gap between the technologies being developed by startups and the needs of large organizations strengthening our economy and positioning Chicago as a leader in addressing complex energy and resource challenges.”

The Initiative will fund a national organization, the Clean Technology Accelerator Program (CleanTAP), led by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), headquartered in Knoxville, Tennessee, in partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). CleanTAP will receive $979,783 to coordinate clean energy-focused business incubators nationwide and provide robust online and technical resources to support the innovation and entrepreneurship community.  Building on the President’s lab to market initiative to open national laboratory assets for entrepreneurs to test and demonstrate their technologies, the national organization will develop a National Asset Map to make private and public resources nationwide more readily available to individual businesses and entrepreneurs across the country.

As a cornerstone of the Initiative, additional awards will go to the three incubators announced today to run innovative programs with commercialization services for startups including mentorship, business development, capital access, and testing and demonstration. These incubators will work with the national organization to develop best practices for clean energy incubators that can be replicated nationwide. With a combined 25 years of experience, the three selected individual incubators have worked with hundreds of startups that have raised more than $1.2 billion in follow-on funding.

NextEnergy and Clean Energy Trust Midwest Innovation Bridge: The NextEnergy (NE) Center in Detroit, Michigan and its partner, the Clean Energy Trust (CET) in Chicago, Illinois, will receive more than $745,000 to establish the Midwest Innovation Bridge. Through the Bridge, startups and entrepreneurs will have access to a robust set of testing and demonstration facilities in both Michigan and Illinois. Additionally, NE and CET will support the development of new, commercially viable companies and industry tech-teaming partnerships through a newly established Energy and Transportation program that mirrors the National Science Foundation (NSF) I-Corps, encouraging companies to engage directly with potential customers. The partnership will host showcases and recruiting events with industry stakeholders where startups have target-rich opportunities to present their products in a real-world environment.

Southwest Regional Clean Energy Incubation Initiative (SRCEII): The Austin Technology Incubator (ATI) at the University of Texas, Austin will receive more than $745,000 to form the Southwest Regional Clean Energy Incubation Initiative (SCREII). ATI and its partners offer a collection of diverse and substantial tools for entrepreneurs, including facilities for testing and prototyping a wide variety of technologies and access to world-renowned facilities, including those of project partner Pecan Street, Inc. SCREII’s network will support entrepreneurs in both rural and urban communities across Texas and New Mexico by providing an integrated incubator network that will bring resources directly to entrepreneurs, virtually or in person.

California Cleantech Commercialization Coalition (4C) Program: The Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator’s (LACI’s) California Cleantech Commercialization Coalition (4C) Program, led by LACI, will receive more than $729,000 to establish California’s first statewide clean energy incubator collaboration, which will connect stakeholders, including state and local government organizations, major California utilities, and investors to provide resources and support to entrepreneurs and small businesses. The 4C Program will leverage its partners’ networks to commercialize clean energy technologies and provide access to demonstration facilities focused on testing market-ready technologies.

These organizations will demonstrate the power of incubator programs, while also fostering innovation in clean energy sectors across the country. For more information on the Technology-to-Market program in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, please visit http://energy.gov/eere/about-us/technology-market-team.

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