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Support technology innovation

IN² was designed to help innovative clean technologies get out of the labs and into the marketplace. The program leverages Wells Fargo’s geographic diversity and expertise in clean energy and commercial buildings to provide early-stage entrepreneurs an accelerated path toward commercialization.

Develop strong relationships

IN² is creating an ecosystem for early-stage technology stakeholders and innovators — including national labs, universities, and regional accelerator programs — to develop strong relationships that provide mentorship, funding, and technical assistance to the most promising commercial buildings entrepreneurs.

Create a sustainable future

IN² focuses on fostering scalable commercial buildings technologies that will lead us to a more sustainable future by helping reduce overall energy impact, conserve natural resources and create jobs.


The Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator (IN²) is a five-year, $10 million program designed to facilitate early-stage technologies that provide scalable solutions to reduce the energy impact of commercial buildings. IN² is funded by the Wells Fargo Foundation and co-administered by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

Referral and selection

IN² is invitation-only, relying on referrals from 40-plus channel partners to commercial-building technologies. Three selection committees evaluate applications based on technical merit and business opportunity, and the companies selected participate across three rounds.

Project scoping

With up to $250,000 of non-dilutive funding available to each startup, NREL determines the project’s scope and proposes various technical tasks based on the company’s request for assistance. Any requests for project support funding are also scoped.

Project support funding

Participants may request project support funding for specific critical business-related activities, primarily to execute the technical aspects of their project. Funding is allocated to the company based on a subcontract that outlines project milestones and deliverables.

Project validation

Over the course of six to 18 months, participating companies have access to NREL’s world-class facilities and researchers, who will test, validate, and incubate the companies’ technologies to help them meet critical validation milestones on their path to the commercial marketplace.

Real-world beta testing

Companies whose completed projects are commercially ready may have the option to do beta testing within a real-world environment, and conduct a pilot in select Wells Fargo locations. Earlier-stage startups may have an opportunity to engage in an additional technical project.


Our strategic community of key stakeholders

This core team made up of Wells Fargo sustainability experts and National Renewable Energy Laboratory technology and program directors manage and facilitate the day-to-day operational activities for the IN² program.

Ashley Grosh

Ashley Grosh

Vice President and Business Initiatives Manager, Environmental Affairs at Wells Fargo

Jeff Austin

Jeff Austin

Senior Vice President, Operational Sustainability Strategy, Environmental Affairs at Wells Fargo

Kate Cheesbrough

Kate Cheesbrough

Assistant Director, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center at NREL

Richard Adams

Richard Adams

Director, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center at NREL

Meghan Bader

Meghan Bader

Project Manager, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center at NREL


Meet the innovators

Energy Storage Systems (ESS) is developing an all-iron redox flow battery with the potential for safe and cost-effective energy storage at 30% of current costs. The ESS battery uses three main electrolyte components: iron, salt, and water. Unlike other flow battery chemistries such as vanadium, the electrolyte components in the ESS battery are abundant and nontoxic. More +

VG SmartGlass has developed a polarizing, film-based shading solution called Invisiblind that could reduce the energy required to light and cool perimeter spaces by 30% as compared to spaces without heat and glare control. Invisiblind could translate into a 75% cost reduction relative to other solutions on the market, along with ease of retrofit into existing buildings. More +

LiquidCool Solutions total immersion electronics cooling technology for computer servers offers 40% energy savings relative to air-cooled systems. A safe, easy-to-maintain dielectric fluid is pumped through the server rack to cool components while protecting them from environmental contaminants. The liquid also enables heat produced by the servers to be used elsewhere in the connected building. More +

Whisker Labs peel-and-stick energy metering technology could reduce energy metering costs by 90%. The sensor allows for simple, noninvasive installation by nontechnical staff. Information collected can be used by third-party energy systems, providing building owners with real-time insight into building energy consumption to drive optimization and planning decisions. More +