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Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center Newsletter: Spring 2020

This story was originally published in the Spring 2020 edition of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Newsletter.

The Industry Growth Forum

Industry Growth Forum logo

2020 IGF Attending Startups
Stage of Development

A pie  chart showing Early: 49%, Commercial: 28%, Growth: 20% and Other: 3%

Startups attending the 2020 IGF showed a range of maturity.

Funding Sources for Presenting Companies
Following IGF 2003-2017

A pie chart showing VC/PE: 66%, Public Markets: 19%, Pre-institutional Funding: 7%, Other: 5%, and Mergers and Aquuisitions: 3%.

Investments in IGF presenting companies represent a range of investment types.

This year's Industry Growth Forum (IGF) marked the 25th anniversary of NREL's hallmark event for the cleantech community. Although this year's event was held virtually, continued growth in investor interest and impact showed the event's vibrancy in the face of change.

The NREL Industry Growth Forum is a two-day annual event featuring pitches from 40 of the most promising startups in cleantech before a panel of industry experts and an awards ceremony. See the winners of the 2020 categories. Connections are also facilitated through one-on-one meetings between investors and startups.

Attendees at the IGF in April 2020 included 155 investors, representing over $310 billion in managed funds. They came to see the best and brightest in new startups: 250 companies were in attendance, and 75% of those were first-time attendees.

The attendance of motivated investors continues to make the IGF a highly productive space for useful conversations and connections. More than 79% of surveyed investors reported making 1–5 connections they feel could lead to increased financing.

Although it is too early to know which deals will result from the conversations held this year, the startups stand to benefit from a powerful track record. Accumulated investment resulting from the IGF has now topped over $6.4 billion since tracking began in 2003.

The community is still proactive. Attendees at this year's virtual event maximized their time to actively connect innovation with investment. There were 1,211 meetings in one day (despite virtual circumstances) in which startups could get advice from investors and industry experts.

Overall attendance was also up, increasing from 469 attendees in 2019 to 558 in 2020. That universe includes startups, investors, advisors, corporates, and representatives of universities, research institutions, governments, and nonprofits. This year, 250 startups attended the IGF, far more than the 40 selected to present.

"This was a really great way to quickly meet a lot of investors. We spoke with 12, and all of them were very relevant with excellent follow-up conversations!" – Evan Erickson, CEO and founder of TexPower