mHUB Hardtech Innovation Center Announces Climate and Energy Tech Accelerator Supported by Initial Industry Partners Invenergy and Nicor Gas

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Following the launch of Smart Manufacturing and MedTech accelerator programs, hardtech innovation center mHUB will open applications for its Climate & Energy Tech accelerator in January 2022.

mHUB accelerator program Demo Day for early-stage hardtech startups

mHUB’s focus on manufacturing and product development, in addition to providing investment, is what early-stage energy startups need to prototype and scale.

mHUB, one of the nation’s leading independent hardtech and manufacturing innovation centers, today announced a Climate and Energy Tech accelerator program to launch in Chicago next year. The organization’s third program is focused on identifying early-stage startups working on hardtech and infrastructure solutions in renewable energy, hydrogen, carbon capture & sequestration, energy storage, vehicle-to-grid, heat sink technologies, distributed energy resources, sustainable buildings and the internet of energy. mHUB is partnering with Evergreen Climate Innovations, formerly Clean Energy Trust, which brings over a decade of industry subject matter expertise to the accelerator program.

The accelerator will be supported by industry partners Nicor Gas, Southern Company Gas’ largest natural gas distribution company in the Southern Company family, and Chicago-based Invenergy, a leading global privately-held developer, owner, and operator of sustainable energy solutions. They will help define key technology areas and engage with startups over the course of the program, providing mentorship and connections within industry. Community partner Evergreen Climate Innovations will provide strategic programming and further access to industry and investment. Additional partners may be announced at a later date.

mHUB Accelerated Incubation will select 8-10 of the most promising startups from a pool of global applicants to participate in its intensive 6-month incubation program that includes rapid product development and prototyping, business development and leadership training, mentorship, customer validation, and piloting. By engaging participants with the program’s partners and broad industry network, market demand is established for each startup’s solution up-front.

“Invenergy drives innovation in energy as we deliver the clean energy infrastructure needed to solve today’s most pressing challenge,” said Michael Polsky, Founder & CEO, Invenergy. “Supporting the mHUB accelerator program provides new opportunities for Invenergy to engage with the entrepreneurs and early-stage ideas that can transform the energy sector, and we look forward to lending our expertise to help bring these ideas to market and further accelerate the clean energy transition.”

“Nicor Gas is excited to partner with mHUB to accelerate early and mid-stage companies developing the latest hard tech in energy efficiency, renewable natural gas, and hydrogen,” said John Hudson, president and CEO of Nicor Gas. “We understand that we are a critical part of our region’s economic recovery from the pandemic, and our clean energy future. That’s why we are proud of the mHUB partnership because we share the commitment to play a key role in supporting and advancing the clean technology ecosystem and a circular economy in our region and state.”

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has recognized mHUB as one of the nation’s most innovative and impactful incubators for energy-related technology and entrepreneurship. mHUB is the recipient of two EPIC prize grants to energize the national energy innovation ecosystem and has active partnerships with Chain Reaction Innovations at Argonne National Laboratory, Innovation Crossroads at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Evergreen Climate Innovations, Centrepolis Accelerator at Lawrence Technological University, and Spark Innovation Center. mHUB has also been recognized by the U.S. Economic Development Administration for its potential to accelerate the transformation of the region's economy by growing clean energy technologies through the 2025 Clean Tech Coalition.

Through mHUB Accelerated Incubation, startups receive capital through a $15M Product Impact Fund with additional investment opportunities from the program’s industry and community partners. Teams benefit from access to mHUB’s over $6M of prototyping equipment and manufacturing resources in addition to a deep network of mentors, investors, product development engineers, supply chain partners, and industry.

"Hardware-based energy startups face unique challenges in scaling and attracting capital,” said Erik Birkerts, CEO at Evergreen Climate Innovations. "mHUB’s focus on manufacturing and product development, in addition to providing investment, is what early-stage energy startups need to prototype and scale. Evergreen will provide hands-on support to its Climate and Energy Tech cohort and help participating entrepreneurs bring their solutions to market.”

“When creating solutions for complex industries, such as energy, it’s critical to engage industry thought leaders operating in the space. Disruptive technologies that are focused on changing systems can’t be deployed or developed in a bubble,” said Mark Tebbe, Managing Partner, mHUB Product Impact Fund. “Having the industry perspective of Nicor Gas and Invenergy will be invaluable to the early-stage technologies looking to commercialize within the sector.”

The Climate and Energy Tech cohort will be led by Thierry Van Landegem who joined mHUB in 2020 to lead the organization’s inaugural accelerator cohort on Smart Manufacturing. He brings over 25 years of innovation expertise and has held leadership roles at Bell Labs and Alcatel.

Applications will open in January 2022 with the program commencing in Chicago in Q2. This is the third cohort of six that will be supported by mHUB’s Product Impact Fund. The first cohort around Industrial IoT/Smart Manufacturing concluded its program this November with a Demo Day that attracted over 350 investors and strategic partners. Startups selected for the second cohort focused on MedTech were recently announced and include nine high-potential medical device startups. The accelerator will launch a second MedTech program following this Climate and Energy Tech cohort. More information on the accelerator can be found at mhubaccelerator.com.

About mHUB
mHUB is a leading independent hardtech and manufacturing innovation center that exists to convene the entrepreneurial ecosystem around physical product innovation to ensure that the manufacturing industry continues to accelerate, grow and thrive. The mHUB community includes over 350 active and alumni startups and small businesses supported by a deep talent pool of product designers and developers, entrepreneurs, engineers and manufacturers, corporate leaders, industry experts, mentors and investors. mHUB provides a hyper-resourced environment to entrepreneurs with the goal of commercializing new hardtech innovation that will lead to new businesses, intellectual property, investment, revenue and job creation. Since launching in 2017, the mHUB community has generated more than $430M in revenue, launched more than 1,256 products, hired more than 2,153 employees, and raised over $1B in capital. Learn more at mhubchicago.com.

About Invenergy
We are innovators building a sustainable world. Invenergy and its affiliated companies develop, own, and operate large-scale sustainable energy generation and storage facilities in the Americas, Europe and Asia. Invenergy's home office is located in Chicago, and it has regional development offices in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Spain, Japan, Poland and Scotland. Invenergy has successfully developed more than 29,000 megawatts of projects that are in operation, construction or contracted, including wind, solar, transmission and natural gas power generation facilities as well as advanced energy storage projects. For more information, please visit http://www.invenergy.com.

About Nicor Gas
Nicor Gas is one of four natural gas distribution companies of Southern Company Gas, a wholly owned subsidiary of Southern Company (NYSE: SO). Nicor Gas serves more than 2.2 million customers in a service territory that encompasses most of the northern third of Illinois, excluding the city of Chicago. For more information, visit nicorgas.com.

About Evergreen Climate Innovations
Evergreen Climate Innovations, formerly Clean Energy Trust, provides catalytic capital and support to entrepreneurs and startups that bring impactful climate technologies to market. The nonprofit pioneered its 501vc® Investment Fund to align philanthropic and corporate contributions to deliver environmental, economic, and social impact. Evergreen advances and expands access to innovation across the Greater Midwest and cultivates an ecosystem of investors, donors, and collaborators. For over a decade, Evergreen Climate Innovations has invested in startups that have raised $41 for every $1 invested. Learn more at evergreeninno.org

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Kim Blomquist
mHUB
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