Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has named the finalists in the American-Made Energy Program for Innovation Clusters (EPIC) Prize Round 2. Ten incubators and accelerators were each awarded $100,000 in cash prizes for implementing their high-impact ideas that are catalyzing place-based energy innovation.
This was the second of three phases in a year-long competition designed by DOE’s Office of Technology Transitions (OTT) to incentivize regional energy incubators as a means of increasing local business productivity, improving the commercial success of startups, and developing clean energy jobs.
Since winning $50,000 in December 2022 for their program design, the accelerators and incubators have been providing real-world support for hard-tech entrepreneurs in 23 cities across 16 states. They were tasked with demonstrating they have the right talent and resources to be successful and have made significant progress implementing their original proposal.
The Move It! Finalists
A panel of expert reviewers rated competitors on their understanding of the local energy ecosystem, the depth of their team and network, and their learnings from challenges faced. The 24 semifinalists were asked to present achievements, metrics, equity and inclusion practices, budgets, and relationships from the last three months.
Many focused on diverse and underserved communities, thereby driving significant impact for those often most affected by climate change. All demonstrated a commitment to supporting local energy startups and driving regional innovation.
The following each won $100,000 for their outstanding efforts:
- The Deployment Engine (Charleston, W.Va.) – ADL is creating a low-carbon mass deployment accelerator that connects hard-tech innovative building decarbonization technologies with customers and deployment opportunities in Appalacia.
- Empowering Solar Innovation (Sterling, Va.) – The Embryia Accelerator Studio Program by Positive Deviancy fuels early-stage solar hard-tech startups with expert support and resources across the United States.
- LabStart: Accessibility to Lab IP Entrepreneurship (Golden, Colo.) – LabStart is helping launch and accelerate women and BIPOC led clean energy companies based on technology from DOE national laboratories.
- Pilot-to-Profit (Austell, Ga.) – GPV Solutions built a platform of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) founders to provide energy solutions for the built environemnt to a pipeline of energy projects at institutions in overlooked and disadvantaged communities.
- REACHing founders @ the Food, Energy & Water Nexus (Fort Collins, Colo.) – REACH grew its accelerator dedicated to supporting founders at the nexus of food, water, and energy through innovative programming and embedded engineers-in-training (EITs).
- Clean Energy Technology Transfer (CETX) (Stony Brook, N.Y.) – CETX leverages expert partners and the market to move clean energy hardware technologies across the transfer gap to development traction.
- Energy & Mobility Innovation in Detroit (Hadley, Mass. and Detroit, Mich.) – Ascend by VentureWell bridges the gap between customer discovery and investment readiness in Detroit focusing on energy and mobility venture acceleration.
- IgniteX Climate Tech Accelerator (Overland Park, Kan.) – Black & Veatch accelerates hard-tech capable of significant carbon reduction and helped create a diverse startup energy innovation ecosystem in the Midwest.
- MEIRs & Innovation Advisors (Somerville, Mass.) – FORGE expands a pool of on-call experts with deep domain knowledge to provide additive, special manufacturing-focused support to startups.
- Transportation Energy Nexus Innovation Program (Los Angeles, Calif.) – The Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) TENx Program supports startups with combined hardware and software systems that deliver integrated solar, storage, and charging solutions.
The Prove It! Phase
These ten incubators and accelerators will move onto the final phase where they’ll have to prove their plan was a success and provide documentation that the program can replicate and scale. The EPIC Prize Round 2 will wrap up in Fall 2023 with a final award of $500,000 to four winners.
This capital will enable these critical, creative organizations to think more expansively about place-based innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystems, ultimately strengthening America’s clean energy future.
Showcasing Epic Startups
In the spirit of lifting others up, semifinalists and finalists also nominated the best startup from their cohort for the EPIC Showcase. This truly epic virtual pitch competition spotlighted the strong pipelines these incubators and accelerators have access to and can mobilize for strong clusters and connections.
The American-Made program fast-tracks innovation through prizes, training, teaming, and mentoring, connecting the nation's entrepreneurs and innovators to America's national labs and the private sector. Teams competing in the EPIC Prize Round 2 will have access to the American-Made Network, which provides mentoring, tools, resources, and support to accelerate the transition of ideas into real-world solutions to achieve clean energy goals.
The EPIC Prize is administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and is part of OTT's broader EPIC program that provides funds and support to place-based incubators to encourage the robust growth of regional energy innovation ecosystems across the United States. NREL is the Prize Administrator for this prize. In this role, NREL will disburse prize funds upon receipt from DOE. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.