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.
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.
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.