U.S. Department of Commerce Invests $748,000 to Accelerate Cleantech Entrepreneurship in NC


The U.S. Department of Commerce have announced that Joules Accelerator (Joules) and the Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster (RTCC) were jointly awarded a $748,244 grant from the Economic Development Administration’s Regional Innovation Strategies i6 Challenge.

The award will enable Joules and RTCC to create a cleantech commercialization corridor (“C3”) in the greater Charlotte and Research Triangle regions, providing a platform for cleantech startups to deliver technology solutions to North Carolina communities. The three-year grant will bring municipalities, utilities, universities, and industry partners together to identify regional problems, build cross-sector partnerships, and facilitate opportunities for pilots and demonstration projects for cleantech startups.

“We’re excited to unite the innovation economies of Charlotte and the Triangle. Bringing one of the country’s largest electric utilities and the largest cluster of smart grid companies together to focus on the development and deployment of clean technologies will have tremendous economic benefits for North Carolina. This model will bring municipalities – both small and large – to the same table, to benefit from the same access to advanced technologies, in a way that hasn’t existed before,” said Bob Irvin, Executive Director of Joules Accelerator.

The Charlotte and Research Triangle regions are already advancing cleantech initiatives like smart cities, renewables deployment, electric and connected vehicles, and advanced manufacturing. The new cleantech corridor will leverage the complementary assets of both regions to advance clean energy, sustainability, and resiliency solutions for communities across North Carolina.

“Triangle communities are leading the way in cleantech implementation – from testing technologies in innovation districts to setting long-term goals for clean energy usage. They know the impact technology can have on sustainability. Winning this grant allows us to bring key community partners to the table to address concerns about our shared future – while also strengthening our ecosystem of cleantech startups and bringing tangible economic benefits to the region,” said Susan Sanford, Executive Director of the Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster.

The U.S. Department of Commerce awarded $21 million to 40 organizations (from over 230 applicants) in 2018 to create or expand cluster-focused entrepreneurship and technology transfer programs through the i6 Challenge. Housed within the Economic Development Administration, the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship manages the Regional Innovation Strategies program and i6 Challenge to foster innovation and the commercialization of new technologies, products, processes, and services with the goal of promoting productivity and economic growth in the United States. More information about the i6 Challenge may be found on the US EDA website.