The Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center (IEC) develops technology incubation programs and other solutions for public and private partners to solve environmental challenges, provide cutting-edge and de-risked solutions to meet sustainability goals, and bolster innovation.

Three researchers working on cable connections of device in a lab

Our proven model can be adapted to meet specific needs and leverage the world-class facilities and expertise of NREL and our partners.

IEC Programs Getting Product to Market: Scale of product development from R&D to market and of task from idea to market. Energy I-Corps: R&D to bench scale, idea to market discovery. Shell GameChanger Powered by NREL: R&D to pre-commercial, market discovery to validation. Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator: R&D to commercial, market discovery to demonstration. NREL Industry Growth Forum: prototype to commercial, market discovery to demonstration. Coming soon: demonstration.

Tech Incubation

Shell GameChanger Accelerator Powered by NREL

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Shell Gamechanger AcceleratorTM Powered by NREL (GCxN) provides cleantech startups with access to NREL’s world-class research and facilities, along with the incubation expertise of the Shell GameChanger program.

GCxN cohort companies have added 49 new jobs since the program kicked off in December 2018.

Headshot of Andrew Hsieh

"GCxN has been a really big catalyst. It allowed us to test our technology on commercially relevant cells. That’s really important as we refine understanding of how we create economic value for our customers."

—Andrew Hsieh, CEO and co-founder, Feasible Inc.


Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator

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Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator (IN2) supports startups that work in commercial buildings, affordable housing, and sustainable agriculture technologies with product development and validation at NREL and the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center. 

Cohort companies have raised $313 million in follow-on funding.

Headshot of Craig Evans

"While we participated in the IN2 program with NREL, we were presented with several great questions that challenged us to re-evaluate our business model and practices. It made us a better company."

—Craig Evans, president and CEO, ESS Inc.

National Lab Access

NREL Commercialization Assistance Program

The Commercialization Assistance Program connects emerging cleantech companies with NREL’s scientists, engineers, and facilities to answer specific technology questions.

Canadian Technology Accelerator

Canadian startups pitch their tech to NREL experts and are awarded technical assistance hours with NREL scientists.

Lab-Based Entrepreneurs

Energy I-Corps

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Energy I-Corps is an entrepreneurial business training program for research teams from the national laboratories that have technologies that may be ready for commercialization.

Energy I-Corps has trained 111 teams.


Opportunities for Small Business

Small Business Program

Small Business Program connects NREL with small and disadvantaged businesses that offer the goods and services needed for the lab to operate.

The Small Business Program won the 2019 Protegee of the Year award.


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American-Made Challenges

The American-Made Challenges accelerate manufacturing for the U.S. domestic energy industry.

This competition offers awards in 15 energy innovation technologies that feature domestic manufacturing.