News Release: 2022 NREL Industry Growth Forum Awards Cleantech Innovators

Five Entrepreneurs Earn Top Awards at This Year’s Event

April 14, 2022 | Contact media relations

The U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) gave awards to five top cleantech innovators at the 2022 NREL Industry Growth Forum (IGF) on April 13–14, 2022. In its 27th year, this IGF returned to an in-person format after two years of all-virtual meetings, and it was an inspiring demonstration of how embracing creativity and partnerships can make a difference in the future of clean energy.

The winners rose to the top from a field of 40 companies that participated in a pitch competition in front of a panel of judges made up of investors. Earlier in 2022, the IGF selected these innovators from a field of 157 applicants.

"Bringing economically viable cleantech solutions to market is a contact sport," said NREL Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center Director Trish Cozart. "Watching all the investors and startup companies make those needed connections again in person was incredible. Our theme of 'Better Together' was really realized in this event. We need each other to foster business success and push the boundaries of technology."

The Industry Growth Forum is the premier cleantech event that brings together entrepreneurs, investors, and industry experts to create powerful connections. The event allows them to forge new relationships, display cutting-edge technologies, and discover ways to bring cleantech to the market. In addition to the cleantech innovation pitch competition, the IGF hosted nearly 900 one-on-one meetings between startups and investors and more than 1,000 additional ad hoc meetings.

"This year was all we hoped it would be and more," said IGF Project Manager Sheila Ebbitt. "We had nearly 550 attendees from all over the world. These folks are tackling the dangers created by climate change head-on, and the solutions they come up with will help the entire planet."

This year's award winners:

Outstanding Venture—Early Stage

Helicoid Industries, Indio, California

Founded in 2019, Helicoid works to commercialize their biomimetic fiber-reinforced composite technology. Helicoid Industries both licenses the technology to composite producers as well as produces preform solutions. The Helicoid technology emulates the structure found in the mantis shrimp, which is one of the toughest structures in the world, providing impact resistance and weight savings

Outstanding Venture—Commercialization Stage

Syzygy Plasmonics, Houston, Texas

Syzygy Plasmonics is developing a first-of-its-kind photocatalytic reactor to electrify chemical production. When powered with renewable electricity, this platform technology enables cost-effective emissions reduction for "hard-to-abate" industrial sectors. Syzygy's go-to-market product is a photocatalytic reactor platform that will focus on low-cost clean hydrogen production.

Outstanding Venture—Growth Stage

Biosynthetic Technologies, Indianapolis, Indiana

Biosynthetic Technologies supplies a family of bio-based (oleo) fluids as suitable replacements to petroleum. These are currently being used in industrial lubrication, metal working, cosmetics, hair care, medical research, and several other applications.

Outstanding Venture—Emerging Markets

UCAP Power, San Diego, California

UCAP Power is a global provider of ultracapacitor-based power solutions across a wide range of markets. Ultracapacitor systems use sustainability-based products offering a long-lasting source of reliable high-power energy storage that can help eliminate lead-acid and other hazardous materials in batteries.

Best Venture Award

UCAP Power, San Diego, California

People's Choice Award

South 8 Technologies, San Diego, California

South 8 Technologies Inc. has developed a novel chemistry for next-generation lithium batteries and electrochemical capacitors. The technology enables a wider operating temperature range of minus 80° to 60°C, providing increased energy and improved safety while maintaining compatibility with standard materials and manufacturing.

"You never expect to win, you hope you do, but, wow," said Syzygy Plasmonics Co-Founder and CEO Trevor Best. "It's big for us. It's validation to our investors. It's a huge compliment to Syzygy's team and all the hard work we've done. This is proof point we are on the right track to decarbonizing the future."

For a list of participating companies and sponsors, and for more information on the Industry Growth Forum, visit us online at

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy's primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for the Energy Department by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.

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