Accelerators targeting cleantech companies

Steven Loeb · May 10, 2018 · Short URL:

They include Cleantech Open National, Cascadia CleanTech Accelerator and Elemental Excelerator

For startups, there are numerous paths for getting their name out there. One way, which Vator has been covering recently, are startup competitions, but another popular method to get a foot in the door, as well as some funding and traction, are accelerators. These are programs that provide companies advice, guidance and various forms of support for startups in their early stages. They also often invest in the companies, for a certain equity stake.

Need a list of startup competitions, challenges, accelerators, etc. from around the world? Check out VatorX. You can find them, or list yours!

There are some very well-known accelerators out there, including Y Combinator and 500 Startups, which have made their names through various successful alumni. Those programs fairly general, accepting companies from a variety of different spaces. 

For some companies, it may help to join an accelerator that only focuses on their specific area. That's especially true for those in more specialized spaces, which will have their own unique challenges and regulations.

Here are some of the accelerators that are focused specifically on mentoring companies in the cleantech space:


Cleantech Open National

"Cleantech Open is the world’s largest cleantech accelerator, providing entrepreneurs and corporate innovators the resources they need to launch and grow successful cleantech businesses."

Investment amount: The application fee per company is: $150 (regular), $100 (student).

Program benefits: 

  • World-class mentoring: receive intensive, tailored mentoring from experienced business experts and gain access to one of the world's only cleantech-specific expert networks.
  • Hands-on training: 12-week series of intensive workshops, bootcamps and webinars to launch your startup to the next level.
  • Prizes: In 2018, U.S. Cleantech Open plans to award a mix of cash and in-kind services to the winners of its showcasing events. This includes:
    • Up to $75,000 in cash investment* to winners of our regional and national showcasing competitions in the U.S.
    • Up to $50,000 of in-kind services - each cash/investment award will be matched with up to an equal amount in services.
    • The opportunity to win more prizes as they are announced.
  • Networking: connect to a powerful national network of influencers and entrepreneurs.
  • Visibility: showcase your startup to investors, strategic partners, and customers through specialized connection events as well as through social media and press releases.
  • Alumni: on-going engagement for teams who’ve completed Cleantech Open, including introductions to investors and corporate partners, participation in Challenges, networking events.

Portfolio companies: Switched Source, change:WATER Labs, CoolComposites, Inergy


"Cascadia CleanTech Accelerator is a business accelerator program powered by the CleanTech Alliance and Oregon BEST. In addition to mentorship, curriculum and connections, a select number of companies going through the Accelerator will qualify for prototype and proof of concept grants, prize money, and other in kind services."

Investment amount: Participation fees are $775 per team

Program benefits: 

  • Mentorship.  Match with cleantech industry mentors who have expertise tailored to your business needs. Mentors help with business planning, intellectual property protection, marketing, financing and more.  

  • Connections that make a difference. The CleanTech Alliance and Oregon BEST networks provide access to businesses, utilities, service providers and investors from across the region.

  • Hands-on business and financing workshops. The workshops assist with business model creation, product development, market development and funding strategies.

  • Customer discovery assistance. Get help connecting with potential partners and customers to hone your minimally viable product and go-to-market strategy.

  • Visibility for your company and brand. Established CleanTech Alliance and Oregon BEST industry events, programs and marketing outreach provide top-level visibility with a targeted audience.   

  • Compete for non-dilutive funding. Accelerator teams will compete for cash (three prizes totaling $10,000 or more), in-kind prizes, and up to $25,000 for prototyping or proof of concept projects.

  • Specialized cleantech skill-building. Our curriculum is targeted at cleantech startups. In addition to fundamental business training, you will get an introduction to cleantech-specific manufacturing and environmental sustainability. If your startup will be producing a physical product or is exploring funders or customers that want you to quantify your environmental impact, this is the program for you!

Portfolio companies: EasyXAFS, HydroStar, PolyRAP, SmartVineyards


Elemental Excelerator

"Each year, we find 15-20 companies that best fit our mission and fund each company up to $1 million to improve systems that impact people’s lives: energy, water, agriculture, and transportation."

Investment amount: We provide a fixed grant of $75,000

To participate in the program, we require:

  • A 1-6% warrant donation to align our nonprofit with your success
  • A one-time program fee of $3,000 to partially offset meals, transportation, and other activities

Program benefits:

  • Facilitated connections to our Global Partners
  • Introductions to customers, investors, corporates, and other strategic partners
  • Access to free and reduced-price services from our Technology Partners
  • Mentorship and targeted expertise
  • Hot desk in Honolulu and Bay Area, relocation is not required

Portfolio companies: Buoy, Solar Analytics, Allume, Nnergix, PastureMap



"If you are a Canadian growth-oriented cleantech, robotics, advanced materials or hardware company, we’ll help you increase your access to financing, grow your talent pool, and break in to international markets"

Investment amount: Not specified

Program benefits:  Our experienced Foresight Growth Executives in Residence (EIRs) and mentors will guide you in expanding your sales and marketing capabilities and building out your supply chains. We will also connect companies with international cleantech challenges through the Foresight Growth Challenge Dialogue program.

Mentor makeup: Jennifer Thompson, John Bruce, Mike Walkinshaw

Portfolio companies: Not specified


"Climate-KIC Accelerator is the only EU acceleration programme focused on climate impact by cleantech commercialisation."

Investment amount: 

Stage 1: Fundamentals 

  • Find your market niche, develop a financial model and figure out how to make money and scale your business. Depending on where you follow this program, this stage comes with a grant of up to €20,000.

Stage 2: Validation

  • Are you solving real customer problems? Talk to customers and verify your business assumptions. The grants in Stage 2 are meant to cover your travel costs and could add up to €25,000.

Stage 3: Delivery 

  • Get your business ready for take-off. Find launching customers, development partners or investors. Form partnerships that make you grow fast. This final stage, you may get up to € 50,000.

Program benefits: The programme is divided in two stages: Stage 1 focuses on the creation of a viable scaling model, while Stage 2 focuses on the validation and refinement of the scaling model with a view toward the activity securing a pilot, a customer or investment.

Through EIT Climate KIC’s extensive experience of working with partners and the start-up community across Europe, we have learned that the most successful bids will require coaching support to develop viable scaling models. The Partner Accelerator programme provides an excellent opportunity to secure this valuable support.

EIT Climate-KIC’s country offices can help you with requesting the support that best meets your needs. In addition to coaching, this could include a range of other support formats, for example, market research, mentoring, training or financial planning assistance.

Portfolio companies: CarbonCloud, Delft IMP, ChillServices, Synano

 Nordic Cleantech Accelerator

"Cleantech Scandinavia is the renowned provider and promoter of Nordic cleantech. Our exclusive platform of Nordic cleantech companies offers a unique opportunity for our well-established international network of investors, industrials, real estate companies, cities, service providers and the public sector. We are the trusted source of cleantech-related investment opportunities, business intelligence and investment statistics in the Nordics."

Investment amount: Not specified

Program benefits: The first step for the cleantech companies entering the Nordic Cleantech Accelerator is the development of a global growth plan with specific success KPIs.

Companies gain access to a network of suitable industries and investors within their solution area. Other accelerator partners, such as China Cleantech Accelerator, provide country-specific market access.

Tailored training modules are offered by Cleantech Scandinavia network based on the needs of the accelerator company. The focus is on country-specific competence development with the aim to support market entry.

Portfolio companies: Alina, Apparkingspot, Cityntel, Fourdeg, Polylabs

Joules Logo.png

"Joules Accelerator enables the growth of high-potential clean energy startups by facilitating training, mentoring and access to utilities, customers and key industry players through the bi-annual catalyst program based in Charlotte, N.C."

Investment amount: Not specified

Program benefits: When a startup joins the Joules Accelerator, it gets immediate and focused access to the relevant decision-makers at Duke Energy and the City of Charlotte. While not every startup is guaranteed a pilot or deal, all cohort members have the opportunity to build their network.

Portfolio companies: Atom Power, TheoremGeo, ConnectDER, Go Electric



"INternet Cleantech ENablers Spark project (INCENSe) aims to foster innovation and high tech employment in the European Energy Sector through the provision of funding and providing world-class acceleration services to support entrepreneurs in the creation of innovative market-oriented solutions able to make energy smarter, reliable and efficient."

Investment amount: Up to €150,000 per beneficiary

Program benefits: 

  • Coaching, 6 months personalized acceleration programme
  • Access to Enel and Endesa facilities and customers for executing pilot tests to validate MVP.
  • Brokerage with investors & markets and
  • Facilitate a sustainable path for each beneficiary through the Extended Investments Phase, providing additional investment to the EU funding & commercial uptake.

Portfolio companies: Nozomi, Remoni, Linc

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