photo of Beth Hartman

March 20, 2016
Posted by Beth Hartman, Electric Power Research Institute

With speakers including Al Gore, Gina McCarthy and Ernest Moniz, this year’s ARPA-E Innovation Summit once again convened leaders in clean energy from all over the country and the world. Along with these political luminaries, industry leaders such as the CEO of the World Bank also spoke at the event about the importance of combating climate change. Finally, in addition to such large corporate partners, representatives from top clean energy incubators supporting the most promising entrepreneurs in the country gathered at the event to discuss how their organizations can do an even more effective job supporting technology commercialization.

Incubators in the network shared many success stories about supporting clean energy technology commercialization over the last year and beyond, including some high-level metrics. For example, among the top 10 incubators in the network, companies have raised over $1 billion in funding, generated over $330 million in revenue, and directly employ close to 3,000 people. Beyond just direct employment, the regional economic impact of these organizations is even more significant, as many of them work closely with local governments and universities. For example, recent economic impact reports from the incubators in Texas and Chicago show that in Austin alone the clean energy sector supports $2.5 billion in revenue and 20,000 jobs, and over 100,000 jobs in Illinois.

Many of the companies supported by the incubators are also now engaged with EPRI research and utility pilot programs, another great success story for the network. For example, Accio Energy is featured in a recent EPRI research brief on the benefits of generating energy from wind and water mist. The company has received support from NextEnergy and won the Clean Energy Trust Challenge, and most recently received $4.5 million in ARPA-E funding. AllCell is also supported by the Clean Energy Trust and is participating in an EPRI research project on thermal energy storage.

Bidgely has been supported by both the Energy Excelerator in Hawaii and the LA Cleantech Incubator. Most recently the company raised $16 million and is participating in EPRI research on non-intrusive load monitoring in addition to partnering with several utilities. Chai Energy is supported by the LA Cleantech Incubator and recently was named one of the winners for increased grid-edge flexibility programs in California. Ibis Networks is supported by the Energy Excelerator and is currently running a program with over 1,000 devices deployed across three university campuses.

After sharing success stories, incubators in the network engaged in a productive discussion about how to generate sustained value as a group going forward, including an exploration of funding models, membership process, and more. Maintaining a strong organization as a network brings benefits to many stakeholders, including incubators, entrepreneurs, and corporate partners. Incubators in the network benefit from increased deal flow as they share company referrals, while entrepreneurs benefit from more quickly finding the resources they need to succeed. In addition, incubators in the network can work together to collectively pursue opportunities such as funding. Along with investors, corporate partners benefit from viewing the network as a scouting system for finding the most promising innovations to solve industry challenges.

Overall both ARPA-E and the Incubatenergy Network meeting were very productive events for the clean energy community. We look forward to continuing to drive value and engagement through the network this year and seeing everyone at other great upcoming conferences such as the Clean Energy Trust Challenge, SXSW Eco, and more.