Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator Announces 2022 Channel Partner Strategic Awards Supporting Network of Cleantech Startups

$1M in funds will be distributed between seven programs supporting startups that are advancing the transition to a low-carbon economy

The nationwide network of IN2 Channel Partners includes 63 cleantech and agtech business incubators, accelerators, universities and industry experts. (Graphic: Business Wire)

DENVER--()--Today, the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator (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), announced seven winners for its sixth cycle of Channel Partner Strategic Awards. Originally launched in 2017, the Channel Partner Strategic Awards program addresses gaps in the cleantech ecosystem and helps eliminate the barriers that startups face on the road to commercialization. For this round, winners will receive between $100,000-$175,000 for projects that help startups contribute to the circular economy, net-zero operations, electrification, sustainable agriculture and diversification of the cleantech space.

Applications were reviewed and awarded based on communicated need and the potential impact on the cleantech ecosystem. Awardees will collaborate with economic development agencies, local and state governments, foundations, universities, corporates and other key clean energy or agtech stakeholders. In addition to the Strategic Awards, Channel Partner Connector Awards totaling an additional $30,000 will be distributed to seven IN² Channel Partners to support conferences, summits and other events.

Our Channel Partner network consists of more than 60 accelerators, incubators and universities that refer companies to the IN² program and provide mentoring and advice along the way,” said Trish Cozart, IN² program manager at NREL. “IN² de-risks investment and aims to act as a catalyst for each startup’s success. The Channel Partner Awards are a unique opportunity for the program to extend its reach and resources.”

The 2022 Channel Partner Strategic Award winners are:

  • BioGenerator (St. Louis, MO) – BioGenerator and its partners will form a new agricultural Contract Research Organization, helping startups develop new crop traits that maintain yield by overcoming current insect resistance or preventing new forms of resistance, providing services to companies in St. Louis and elsewhere.
  • Browning the Green Space (Boston, MA) – Browning the Green Space will launch a Contractor Accelerator, working with traditional and vocational technical high schools, certification programs and community colleges to strengthen the pipeline of diverse prospective business owners and employees in the contractor space.
  • FORGE (Somerville, MA) – FORGE, the non-profit arm of Greentown Labs, will increase the reach, depth and efficacy of their support for diversely-led cleantech startups while making introductions to local manufacturers and supply chain expertise, combined with the training and support needed to ensure readiness for the connections to be productive.
  • Innosphere Ventures (Fort Collins, CO) – Innsophere’s REACH Energy Accelerator will support entrepreneurs commercializing energy hardtech innovations by providing participants with hardtech-based consulting, prototyping, testing, techno-economic analysis support, market research and business support services.
  • Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship, Rice University (Houston, TX) – The Rice Alliance programs will work closely with historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) and minority serving institutions (MSI) universities and colleges, their entrepreneurship centers and STEM departments and diverse student entrepreneurship organizations to provide cash awards, travel stipends and participation in the Rice Business Plan Competition and the Energy Tech Venture Forum, helping support diverse cleantech startups.
  • Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation, Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA) – The Scott Institute will build optimization and simulation models, investigating how the deployment of electric-vehicle charging infrastructure will impact disaster response performance metrics across low and high-income communities in emergency evacuation scenarios.
  • Wisconsin Energy Institute, University of Wisconsin (Madison, WI) – The Wisconsin Energy Institute will support a circular bioeconomy ecosystem that uses renewable and waste resources as raw materials for new products throughout Wisconsin by hosting workshops to explore gaps and opportunities, facilitating regular communications between Wisconsin’s innovation network stakeholders and holding conferences to lay the groundwork for a more robust circular economy industry.

The Channel Partner Awards connect startups to a vast, diverse network of resources that can significantly impact a company’s ability to commercialize,” said Wells Fargo’s Vice President of Climate Aligned Philanthropy, John Moon. “We are committed to supporting ideas and technologies through the IN² program and awards that can deliver meaningful and equitable progress against the challenges of climate change.”

The nationwide network of IN² Channel Partners includes 63 cleantech and agtech business incubators, accelerators, universities and industry experts. Since the inception of the awards program in 2017, $6 million in competitive and non-competitive Channel Partner Awards have supported 55 Strategic Awards, 170 Ecosystem or Connector Awards and engaged all Channel Partners.

About the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator (IN²)

The Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator (IN²) is a $50 million clean technology program funded by the Wells Fargo Foundation and co-administered by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). IN² identifies and supports promising cleantech startups, with the goal of commercializing low-carbon solutions in order to achieve the associated social, economic, and climate benefits that are so urgently required. The program aligns creative entrepreneurial solutions with robust resources in order to reduce emissions across the economy, with a focus on minimizing the energy impact of commercial buildings, affordable residential housing, and agriculture sectors. More specifically, IN² helps early- and mid-stage clean technology startups overcome common market barriers by delivering up to $250,000 in non-dilutive funding in the form of research and development support from world-class scientists. Participants also gain access to lab facilities at NREL and the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis (Danforth Center), and connections to a robust, cross-industry network of foundations, investors and other stakeholders. For more information, visit www.IN²ecosystem.com.

About Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) is a leading financial services company that has approximately $1.9 trillion in assets, proudly serves one in three U.S. households and more than 10% of small businesses in the U.S., and is the leading middle market banking provider in the U.S. We provide a diversified set of banking, investment and mortgage products and services, as well as consumer and commercial finance, through our four reportable operating segments: Consumer Banking and Lending, Commercial Banking, Corporate and Investment Banking, and Wealth & Investment Management. Wells Fargo ranked No. 37 on Fortune’s 2021 rankings of America’s largest corporations. In the communities we serve, the company focuses its social impact on building a sustainable, inclusive future for all by supporting housing affordability, small business growth, financial health, and a low-carbon economy. News, insights, and perspectives from Wells Fargo are also available at Wells Fargo Stories. Additional information may be found at www.wellsfargo.com | Twitter: @WellsFargo


Liz Crumpacker
Antenna Group for IN²



Liz Crumpacker
Antenna Group for IN²