Start-Up Companies Land Support from Charlotte’s Joules Accelerator


The Duke Energy Foundation will fund a program that will allow college students to help energy startups – working with local neighborhoods to bring decarbonization programs to underserved communities in the Carolinas.

The Foundation recently awarded $96,000 to Joules Accelerator – a Charlotte-based nonprofit that helps foster clean energy startups.

“Duke Energy has been a long-time supporter of Joules Accelerator,” said Brian Savoy, Duke Energy’s chief strategy and commercial officer. “This grant will bring students into the program to help energy startups integrate cleantech programs in our local areas.”

The grant will support the creation and deployment of a new program – Joules Camp. Six student interns will work alongside energy startups to provide sustainable energy solutions for communities throughout the Carolinas.

A student intern will work with each pilot effort to improve resiliency and sustainability for a community, provide revenue for small businesses and provide a comprehensive “Joules Camp Story” that showcases how the funding is benefiting the community.

“These are the early days of what we’re now calling Cleantech 2.0,” says Bob Irvin, executive director of Joules Accelerator. “Today, we see an explosion of interest in meeting climate goals through corporate innovation, venture capital investment, university and national laboratory research and national policy initiatives. Our focus is providing early-stage entrepreneurs with the right advisory team to gain market traction in the Carolinas.”

The camp will advance the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion – ensuring that at least one-half of interns are from underrepresented backgrounds, and half the pilot communities are underserved.

Joules Accelerator works to identify, advise, connect and deploy early stage climate startups with the energy network of the Southeast and beyond. Joules moves quickly to make warm connections to relevant stakeholders and to find revenue-generating pilots and other commercialization opportunities for startups. Network members include Duke Energy, Microsoft, S&C Electric, EY, UNCC, the city of Charlotte and more.

Joules presents 12 startups through two cohorts per year. Each cohort lasts 90 days and requires two-four hours per month for meeting with potential customers. The program is free for startups, free to apply and does not take equity.