Billion Dollar Breakthrough: The Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator Reaches New Milestone

Sept. 8, 2021 | By Kassidy Gamble | Contact media relations

The Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator (IN2), managed by NREL, has reached a milestone: Its portfolio of startup companies has raised more than $1.1 billion in external funding since joining IN2. This translates to the companies raising $95 for every dollar invested in them by the Wells Fargo Foundation.

More IN2 Success


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$1.1 Billion
Raised Since Joining IN2

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Growth Rate

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Jobs Created

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Industry and Investment Connections

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Portfolio Companies

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$1 to $95
Leverage Rate

Over the past seven years, 56 cleantech startups have been selected for the IN2 program. The companies are provided $250,000 in non-dilutive technical assistance at NREL or the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, Missouri. Additionally, they are introduced to an ecosystem of support including NREL’s investor network and a network of channel partners—more than 60 universities, accelerators, and incubators in the cleantech ecosystem.

The companies, for their part, have added more than 1,340 jobs to the economy. This represents a total employment growth rate of 136% within the IN2 portfolio.

Trish Cozart

"This billion-dollar milestone means that the model is working and working well. That amount is beyond our wildest expectations of success. It proves the worth of NREL’s reputation and ability, along with the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, to build programs to select promising companies and provide game-changing technical assistance."

—Trish Cozart, Program Manager, IN2

A Successful Model in Growth Mode

Initially, IN2 focused on supporting scalable solutions to reduce energy use in commercial buildings. Now, IN2 has expanded to include startups in sustainable agriculture, affordable housing technology, and mobility.

IN2 also awarded $350K last year to four channel partners to focus on projects increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion in their organizations and within the broader cleantech ecosystem.

Partnering with entities such as the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, the world’s largest independent plant science research institute, allows IN2 to continue to expand and provide help for startups in adjacent industries. IN2 hopes to continue expanding its partnerships so that more startups have the same opportunities.

Focus on Startups

IN2 has expanded to helping startups in sustainable agriculture production, housing affordability, and mobility.

The companies selected by Wells Fargo, NREL, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, and IN2’s external advisory boards receive up to $250,000 in non-dilutive funding.

By assisting clean technology and agriculture companies on their paths to market, IN2 provides a space for startups in hard-tech and energy to thrive.

10 companies have successfully exited the program through mergers and acquisitions.

Danforth Plant Science Center

Danforth Center

Partnering with companies such as Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, the world’s largest independent plant science research institute, allows NREL to continue expanding IN2 and provide help for startups in adjacent industries. NREL hopes to continue expanding its partnerships so that more startups have the same opportunities.

The Future Is Bright

For NREL, the focus of IN2 is the startups and what meaningful solutions and opportunities the program can provide for them.

“Startups already have a hard road to travel to get successfully to market, but it is even harder for those in hard-tech and energy," said Trish Cozart, IN2 program manager. "Anyone tackling this challenge is a hero, and we are here to help."

It is a reminder that the billion-dollar milestone was achieved by the startups, and, beyond the dollars, the real achievement is bringing clean technology to market. Among recent successes, IN2 portfolio company 7AC and its liquid desiccant HVAC technology were acquired by Emerson, agtech startup TerViva and its sustainable oilseed crop launched a collaboration with Danone, and Turntide Technologies with its smart motor system expanded into commercial transport through the acquisition of two other companies.

Mergers and Acquisitions

Geli logo

Acquired by Q Cells

7AC logo

Acquired by Emerson

VG Smart Glass logo

Acquired by SmarterShade

Stratis logo

Acquired by Realpage

Whisker Labs logo

Acquired by Resideo

Go Electric logo

Acquired by Saft

Power Flex logo

Acquired by EDF Renewables

Edge Power logo

Acquired by Just Energy

J2 Innovations logo

Acquired by Siemens

ESS logo

Merged with AconS2

Ramsay Huntley

"This is a milestone for IN2, but not a surprise. From the beginning Wells Fargo has recognized the need to accelerate climate tech innovation into the marketplace. We knew startup companies could move quickly and had technology solutions. This milestone validates the IN2 model."

—Ramsay Huntley, Sustainable Finance Strategist, Wells Fargo

Although IN2 has been helping startups since 2014, this milestone is only the beginning. NREL prides itself and its partners on the development of a model that works, evidenced by everyday successes. As partnerships begin to grow and more companies are selected, the best is yet to come.

For more information about the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator, visit

Tags: Entrepreneurs