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Networks

The Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center (IEC) is at the center of a cleantech ecosystem.

Two people talking at a conference

Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center in center of circle surrounded by spokes that are labelled entrepreneurs; industry; DOE; incubators, accelerators, universities; national labs; community; NREL; and investors

From our unique position as a national lab-based entity with influential industry partners and motivated investors, we have built a network that can bring cleantech innovation to market, where it will make real impact.

We manage technology incubation programs for Shell and Wells Fargo; partner with industry and Department of Energy (DOE) labs and facilities; convene a robust network of more than 150 cleantech investors, including the NREL Investor Advisory Board; and manage a network of more than 60 leading incubators, accelerators, and universities that refer and assist our startup companies.

Entrepreneurs

Our Shell GameChanger AcceleratorTM Powered by NREL and Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator portfolios include 56 companies—and counting. In addition, we convene entrepreneurs from around the world to participate in our annual Industry Growth Forum, which includes an Emerging Markets track. By encouraging cleantech innovation by and for developing economies, IEC amplifies its social and economic impact.

Incubators, Accelerators, and Universities

More than 60 universities, accelerators, and incubators make up the IEC network of Channel Partners.  

Map of the United States with the locations of 64 channel partners

Investors

More than 150 investors participate in IEC programs and events. Among them, NREL's Investor Advisory Board includes 40 investment firms that work with NREL and one another to support technology solutions that generate global impact.

Industry

IEC works with industry to create customized solutions to global problems. We have developed programs, demonstration projects, and events that help our industry partners meet their business and societal objectives. Among our partners:

  • Shell GameChanger offers funding and expertise to start-ups that have an early-stage technology solution that tackles a challenge relevant to the energy industry.

  • The Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator minimizes the energy impact of commercial buildings, affordable residential housing, and agriculture sectors.

Other Network Partners

Communities

The IEC provides opportunities for diverse communities to engage with the national lab system, DOE, and our network of entrepreneurs and investors. We invite often overlooked communities in rural areas, developing countries, and economically disadvantaged enclaves to participate in our programs and events, where the best ideas are shared and amplified.

National Labs

The IEC works with the entire network of DOE national laboratories, many as part of our channel partner network and others through our management of the DOE Energy I-Corps program. Energy I-Corps introduces teams of lab researchers that have breakthrough technologies to business processes, strategies, and principles.

NREL

It's where we live. As the only national laboratory dedicated to renewable energy and energy efficiency, NREL is an expert in clean technology. The lab has the world-class research staff and facilities that can inform innovation. The IEC ensures connections are made between lab resources, markets, and innovators that are working to deliver on NREL's objective: transforming energy.

U.S. Department of Energy

The IEC works with DOE to grow the economy by encouraging energy transformation. Our IEC programs and events are all run through NREL, a DOE national laboratory that supports our endeavors. In addition, we manage Energy I-Corps, a DOE program that trains national lab researchers in business practices and strategies, and we are an award-winning participant in the DOE Small Business Program, which facilitates opportunities for small and disadvantaged businesses to work with NREL and other national laboratories.