The Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator (IN2) today announced that it has accelerated its awards program to provide $900,000 to help cleantech and sustainable agriculture startups retain staff and stay on track to bring their potentially game-changing solutions to market in the face of impacts due to COVID-19.
According to a recent global survey, 74% of startups have seen revenues decline since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis.
IN2, a technology incubator and platform funded by the Wells Fargo Foundation and co-administered by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), expedited the funding phase from September 2020 in order to provide immediate support for pre- and post-revenue cleantech startups in markets across the country through its Channel Partners – a network of technology incubators, accelerators and university programs that refers promising startups to IN2.
“We know that small businesses across America are being hit especially hard right now. Our Channel Partner ecosystem represents a wide range of experts in cleantech, agtech, and finance who understand the challenges startups grapple with during a global economic and health crisis and how they might be mitigated. Innovation can and will persist — even during times of contraction — and this expedited funding is designed to support that,” said Trish Cozart, IN2 program manager at NREL.
The IN2 Channel Partner Awards program – a $5 million total fund – aims to strengthen sustainable technology initiatives and address barriers that startups face on the path to commercialization. The new round of award funds will be allocated toward programming or operational assistance designed to address the unprecedented challenges that startups within the partners’ portfolios are experiencing in the current business environment.
“Startups have a difficult time getting from prototype to market even under the best of circumstances, and countless promising technologies focused on solutions to pressing global issues are at risk of being lost without immediate help,” said Ramsay Huntley, Sustainable Finance Strategist at Wells Fargo. “Startups need to be able to adapt quickly to changing realities. IN2 is showing that it is prepared to do the same by being nimble in our support.”
The winners include: ACRE — New York University, AgLaunch, AgStart, Austin Technology Incubator — University of Texas, BRITE, CCIA, Clean Energy Trust, Cleantech Open (West), Daugherty Water for Food — University of Nebraska, Imagine H2O, Launch Alaska, Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI), MaRS DD, NCBiotech, NECEC, New Energy Nexus, Texas A&M TEES, and VertueLab.
The awards program was established in 2017, with $5 million of committed funding from Wells Fargo to be distributed over four years to the nationwide network of 63 cleantech and agtech stakeholders within the Channel Partner ecosystem. Since inception, over 200 grants have been allocated toward nationwide cleantech initiatives in support of research and development, investment opportunities, pilot projects, and more.