The Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator (IN2) is a $30 million program that facilitates the commercialization and adoption of clean energy technologies. IN2 is positioned to help companies think about their end customer, providing funding and technical assistance that leverages the capabilities, facilities, equipment and deep expertise that exists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and other strategic partners.

Program Overview

IN2 is a unique technology incubator and platform that is funded by the Wells Fargo Foundation and co-administered by NREL, IN2 began as a $10 million program in 2014 with a focus on supporting commercial buildings-related clean technologies and startups. By offering non-dilutive grants, technical expertise and assistance to support technology development, testing and validation, field testing opportunities, and ongoing connections to organizations across value chains, including the investment community, IN2 aims to help de-risk technologies and ease their path to market adoption and deployment. IN2 is expanding its focus in 2018 to support innovation in sectors such as transportation, commercial buildings, food systems, energy storage and others with the ultimate goal of fostering smart and connected communities of the future.

Selection Process

IN2 operates highly selective and competitive application and selection rounds to invite new cohorts into the program. 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. Since 2014, three cohorts have been invited to the program on an annual basis, totaling 20 companies.

IN2 fosters a network of Channel Partners to identify and refer companies to the program. IN2 Channel Partners, consisting of incubators, accelerators and universities across the country, serve as ambassadors to the program and help their portfolio companies determine if IN2 is a good fit for their current needs.

If applying to the program is deemed appropriate, applicants are requested to provide information addressing their company profile, business plan, technology development status and future plans.

Fostering a Cleantech Ecosystem

Government Entities

University, NGO Research Centers

Investors (Corporate, VC, FO)

Wells Fargo Experts


Industry Experts

Program Structure

The IN2 platform seeks to support various stages of emerging clean technologies categorized into three tiers:

  • Tier 1 – Bench Scale: TRL 1-5, Conceptual stage with physical proof that the concept may work
  • Tier 2 – Prototype: TRL 6-7, Prototype available for testing and validation
  • Tier 3 – Commercially-ready: TRL 8-9+, Production models available in limited quantity

Our goal is to help each tier meet critical milestones to help companies advance to the next stage – ultimately helping them in their quest toward commercialization. Over the course of 9-18 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 commercialization.

Once a technology is tested and validated through NREL, if it is applicable to Wells Fargo and meets internal criteria, a beta may be pursued. This beta test provides a startup with critical understanding of how their technology performs in a real world environment. Real world testing helps to inform further technical development and prove out the technology, two crucial elements on their path to market.

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