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May 02, 2024 | Tom Ballard

Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator is expanding in a major way

Co-administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the program is adding a new track designed to help deploy clean energy technologies.

For its 10th anniversary, the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator (IN2) is expanding in a major way.

The clean technology program is funded by the Wells Fargo Foundation and co-administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), specifically NREL’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center (IEC). Over the past 10 years, IN2 has supported 12 cohorts of start-up companies with up to $250,000 each in nondilutive funding. The companies use those funds to work with the world-class experts at NREL and the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis to improve, validate, and de-risk their technologies. Applicants are referred by the Channel Partner network, a group that includes more than 60 incubators, accelerators, and universities that collectively have access to more than 6,000 start-ups.

What’s changing?

In 2024, IN2 is evolving with a new track designed to help deploy clean energy technologies. The plan is to partner start-ups — potentially IN2 program alums — with companies and communities that want to adopt clean energy technologies. While the program will look to IN2 alums first, the key will be finding the technology each adoptee needs. The funding from IN2 will help the start-up install its technologies at one of the partner’s locations and provide a targeted curriculum for the adoptees to give them the knowledge needed to uptake the new technology.

For this first cohort on the new track, IN2 will find industry partners across a broad spectrum — from large corporations or grocery chains to mid-size companies in real estate, and nonprofit and/or government entities (city, county, or state).

Then Knoxville-based start-up mobius, formerly known as Grow Bioplastics, was one of six new ventures focused on agriculture technology solutions that participated in the seventh cohort of IN2.

To learn more about the program and its changes, read the NREL news release.

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