Wells Fargo & Company announced a $20 million expansion of the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator (IN2), a program that advances emerging clean technologies and start-up companies. IN2, now a $30 million program co-administered by Wells Fargo and the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), will expand its focus to additional sectors such as transportation, microgrid solutions and sustainable agriculture, and implement a Channel Partner Award program.
Launched in 2014, the IN2 program was developed to speed the path to market for early-stage, clean-technology entrepreneurs. Its initial focus was to support scalable solutions to reduce the energy impact of commercial buildings, leveraging a network of channel partners for participant referrals. Companies selected for participation in the program receive up to $250,000 in non-dilutive funding from Wells Fargo, technical support and validation from experts at NREL’s facilities in Golden, Colorado, and the opportunity to beta test at a Wells Fargo facility or with a strategic program partner.
To date, the program has funded 20 early-stage start-ups from across the U.S. and has seen the successful exits of two Round 1 awardees via acquisition. Beta tests have been conducted within the Wells Fargo footprint, and the program has attracted national and international interest as a unique and successful model to accelerate the commercialization of environmentally beneficial technologies.
With the additional funding, IN2 will leverage its commercialization model to build out additional verticals to drive innovation in sectors such as transportation, sustainable agriculture, energy storage and others. The additional funding will also be used to develop a Channel Partner Award program to provide financial support for its more than 40 Channel Partners, made up of universities, business plan competitions and other incubator that maintain a pipeline of start-up referrals to be considered for participation in the IN2 program.
“In the three years since the launch of IN2, we’ve learned that the success of the program is very much dependent on the support and mentoring our participants receive at their earliest stages—at universities and through other incubator and accelerator programs—prior to joining IN2,” said Ashley Grosh, Vice President and IN2 co-lead for Wells Fargo. “We are very excited to leverage this additional funding to extend the successful IN2 program model beyond the commercial building space to support innovation in other important clean-tech verticals, and to nurture an ecosystem where more start-ups and innovators receive the technical support and encouragement they need at their earliest stages in order to advance toward commercialization of their technologies.”
Wells Fargo will announce the additional expansion funding for its IN2 program during NREL’s annual Industry Growth Forum on April 13 at The Westin Downtown Denver, where IN2 leaders will launch a dialogue with city officials, policy experts and key industry leaders on how to make their vision of a sustainable, clean-tech ecosystem a reality.
“In addition to providing continued and increased support for the program, we are seeking to further connect our network of key stakeholders, industry experts, university programs and channel partners in order to be successful in expanding the focus and dialogue around a long-term, sustainable ecosystem,” said Richard Adams, Director of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center (IEC) at NREL. “During the life of the IN2 program, our goal is to stimulate smart and connected communities by leveraging the technical expertise and thought leadership provided by NREL to support innovative technological breakthroughs that will lead us to a more sustainable future.”
For more information, visit WF.IN2.com.