Fostering a Smart and Connected Community

The Program

Launched in 2014 with an initial $10 million commitment by the Wells Fargo Foundation, and expanded in 2017, Innovation Incubator (IN2) is now a $30 million program supporting innovative technologies and innovators. IN2 is positioned to help companies think about their end customer, providing technical assistance that leverages the capabilities, facilities, equipment and the deep expertise that exists at NREL as well as the buildings portfolio of Wells Fargo to help companies derisk technologies and ease their path to market adoption and deployment.

IN2 is invitation-only, relying on referrals from more than 40 channel partners to source applicants. Through a competitive and diligent review process, select early-stage companies are formally invited into the program where they receive up to $250,000 in technical assistance from the laboratory and project related support. Over the course of six to 18 months, participating companies have access to NREL’s world-class facilities and researchers, who will test, validate, and incubate the companies’ technologies to help them meet critical validation milestones on the path to market.

Companies whose completed projects are commercially ready may have the option to do beta testing within a real-world environment, and conduct a pilot within the Wells Fargo buildings portfolio or other locations.

NREL engineers work on a Go Electric inverter in a lab at NREL’s Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF). Photo by Dennis Schroeder.
PowerFlex Systems engineers begin discussions with NREL researchers around their technology needs and support IN2 can provide. Photo by Dennis Schroeder.
LiquidCool Solutions engineers and NREL researchers stand by a LiquidCool Solutions “Liquid Submerged Server” at NREL’s Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) HPC data center. Photo by Dennis Schroeder.
An NREL engineer attaches a device developed by Whisker Labs to a circuit breaker service box at NREL’s Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF).

IN2‘s Portfolio


Portfolio Companies

20 portfolio companies to date have each received up to $250,000 in technical assistance from the laboratory and project related support


in follow-on funding from IN2 has been distributed to date

IN2‘s Ecosystem Support


Channel Partners

40+ Channel Partners refer early-stage companies to the program, and provide critical business mentoring and support to IN2 portfolio companies


IN2 portfolio companies have gone on to raise $83.65 million from external follow-on funding


Mergers & Acquisitions

Due to the support from IN2, 3 portfolio companies to date have seen successful exits


Beta Demonstrations

5 portfolio companies have beta demonstrations at Wells Fargo or NREL with 3 additional planned pilot demonstrations in the near future


Our Investments Go Far

For every IN2 program dollar awarded to an IN2 portfolio company, on average, IN2 companies raise 12 dollars in external follow-on funding

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2017 Annual Report

With nearly two-thirds of Americans living in urban settings, many of our fundamental challenges—from reliability and resiliency concerns to equitable growth to improved health—will require our cities to be laboratories for innovation. The rapid pace of technological change, from the rise of data science, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and ubiquitous sensor networks to autonomous vehicles, holds significant promise for addressing core local challenges.