CleanTech News’ Top Ten Startup Accelerators

by Editor in Chief, Maisie Law.

How these ten accelerators are leading the cleantech revolution.

Although the technologies themselves tend to dominate public discourse, startup accelerators play an equally crucial role in driving the ‘cleantech revolution’. Nurturing and encouraging the growth of the most innovative, cutting-edge cleantech companies, today we bring you our top ten CleanTech Accelerators. 

1. AT&T Aspire Accelerator

With an overarching mission of “inspiring human progress through the power of communication and entertainment”, AT&T uses their Aspire accelerators to work with organisations that use technology to support community and education. 

AT&T have a marked social responsibility towards emissions reduction and utilising renewable energy, aiming to enable carbon savings 10 times the footprint of their operations by 2025

As a part of their AT&T Aspire initiative, the accelerator provides aspire investment, a national platform, a customised programme, flexible location and focussed mentorship. Hosting a $1m Skills Building Challenge to locate and accelerate eight startups annually. 

2. Greentown Labs

As the largest incubator in North America, Greentown Labs aims to provide cleantech startups with the support they need to flourish, as a community of bold, passionate entrepreneurs creating solutions for today’s biggest climate and environmental challenges.

In addition to the accelerator programme, Greentown Labs’ non-profit sister company FORGE connects startups with manufacturers, which to this day has facilitated over 1000 connection. Not only this, but Greentown Launch also connects startups with effective partners, fast-tracking technology-to-market lead times. 

On a mission to establish a community to solve climate and environmental challenges, Greentown Labs is home to more than 100 startups and has supported over 250. Collectively, the accelerator has created more than 6,500 jobs and has raised more than $750m in funds.

3. Shell Foundation Incubator
Source: Shell Foundation

Focussing on access to energy and sustainable mobility, the Shell Foundation Incubator creates and scales business solutions to these issues, concentrating their efforts in Africa and Asia to prevent hindrance to sustainable development. 

Providing ‘high touch business support’, Shell combine business and development expertise to supply their portfolio with strategic guidance and support. A focus on sustainability led to 75-80% of their grants supporting initiatives that are progressing to scale and sustainability. 

Investing in early-stage ventures, the program is “focussed on identifying potential game-changers: pioneers of brand new categories of products and services.” With a six-stage market growth formula, the Shell Foundation Incubator accelerates social innovation and builds inclusive markets in challenging locations. 

4. Elemental Excelerator

By nurturing cleantech innovation, Elemental Excelerator accelerates solutions to climate change and deploys them where they are needed most. This programme invests to improve the systems that impact people’s lives. This includes energy, water, food & agriculture, mobility and the circular economy. 

Taking on between 15-20 startups annually, with up to $1m funding each, Elemental Excelerator now has 99 portfolio companies, 59 demonstrates projects and has awarded $36m to companies to aid growth. 

Every day the accelerator works towards rapidly deploying solutions to meet the challenges that climate change poses – in addition to social and economic challenges, also. 

5. Black & Veatch IgniteX Cleantech Accelerator

Committing to a minimum of $250,000 in grants and services, Black & Veatch works closely with startup companies to accelerate innovative growth to scale solutions to save lives, support communities and strengthen the economy. 

With a sustainable outlook, the employee-owned company use their expertise with the intention to reshape industry and society to reveal innovation in sustainable infrastructure. 

By partnering with startups focused on renewable and distributed energy, mobility, agricultural technology and machine learning/AI, Black & Veatch are helping the world move towards a sustainable future faster. 

For more information about the work of Black & Veatch, see here.

6. Powerhouse Incubator

With the determination to back entrepreneurs to build the future of energy and mobility, the Powerhouse connects startups, corporations and investors to the end of building a decarbonised, democratised and digitized energy and mobility system. 

Through investing in seed-stage startups, Powerhouse is changing the way we power our world. Their four “C” formula of connection, capital, community and co-working nurtures growing cleantech startups to revolutionise the approach to the climate crisis by deploying market-based solutions. 

7. Techstars – mobilitysustainabilityenergy

Managing Director, Aundun Abelsnes, looks for “great teams that are intellectually honest, coachable, and that demonstrate fierce execution skills,” in this cleantech accelerator that seeks for innovative startups in the energy sector. 

Striving for advances in the four critical areas of the energy sector (oil and gas, new business models, digitisation, and renewables), this accelerator believes that entrepreneurs can change the world, combined with the innovation of collaboration. 

Selecting over 500 early-stage companies each year to join one of their three-month programmes, the companies oversees multiple accelerating programmes. Through these, 2,157 companies have found success alongside Techstars, with a total of 9.3bn in[MOU1]  funding. 

8. CITRIS Foundry
Source: CITRIS Foundry

The CITRIS Foundry Innovation Incubator is on a mission to innovation, diversity and creation. With 468 VC-backed startups from alumni since 2010, the accelerator offers over $30,000 of infrastructure and services to its startups. 

This programme from the University of California leverages resources and expertise globally, and from their innovation ecosystem, to support new ventures, social enterprises and tech transfer pathways to influence industries. 

With a six month accelerated programme, taking on two cohorts per year, the incubator facilitates growth through providing a community, coach and the necessary business resources.  

9. Urban-X

Every six months, Urban-X selects up to ten urbantech startups, investing around $150,000 per company. With an immersive 20 week programme, the accelerator is unique for its expertise in urbantech challenges meaning there is no issue they are ill-equipped to resolve. 

With an investment offering, design resources, deployment and global exposure, Urban-X has a portfolio of transportation, utilities and real estate innovation.

10. LACI

This CleanTech incubator is creating an inclusive green economy by accelerating innovation, transforming markets and enhancing communities.  Working with around 30-40 companies each year, LACI has three programmes from startups to their Founders Business Accelerator, all aimed at raising funding and gaining market traction.

Although they do not provide grants to their startups, they provide the invaluable resources of applicant collaboration and support in an innovation hub. Defining cleantech as “products or services that advance sustainable or efficient use of resources,” in its first five years, LACI incubated 67 companies which raised $134M in funds.