One of CCIA’s longest and closest partnerships is with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden. This week, May 3-4, 2018, NREL is celebrating its 30th Industry Growth Forum (IGF), which is a key event on the calendar for our community, connecting innovative research with entrepreneurship. (Photos courtesy NREL)

By J.A. Colantonio, NREL Project Leader

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL’s) 30th Industry Growth Forum (IGF) takes place this week in Denver, Colorado. The 400+ attendee list and big name keynote speakers reflect the energy revolution and growing cleantech industries.

Over the past twenty years, we have witnessed an ever-changing energy landscape as renewables, batteries, electric vehicles, and energy efficiency technologies reshape the way we generate, store, and use energy. We’ve also seen NREL’s flagship event, the IGF, undergo a similar evolution.

The early IGF days might have had a dozen or so investors huddled around a board room, listening to startup pitches and discussing the state of the energy sector. Today, NREL welcomes over 100 cleantech investors, 30 presenting companies, and hundreds of other entrepreneurs, incubators, innovators and thought leaders.

The event has grown into a full-fledged networking conference and pitch competition, showcasing the latest and greatest advanced energy innovations and facilitating vital connections that support collaboration across sectors and industries. The impact of bringing these leaders together is big: since 2003, companies that have presented at the IGF have gone on to raise a collective $6.4 billion in follow on funding.

At NREL, the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center (the event host) strives for program results that connect capital with the innovators that will create significant impact.

These connections made at the Industry Growth Forum matter. When asked why the lab convenes this electrifying community each year, NREL Associate Lab Director of Innovation Partnering & Outreach, Bill Farris, reflects: “We do this because it’s important to fulfilling our mission. We do it because we’re at the intersection of entrepreneurs and investors. We do it because access to capital is a critical missing ingredient in taking innovations to market. This was true 30 years ago and is still true today.”

This year’s IGF features engaging content as well, including a dynamic speaker panel on the theme “The Power of Collaboration: Innovation, Investment and Impact,” and a much-anticipated keynote address from one of the leading venture capitalists in cleantech, DBL Partners’ Nancy Pfund.

Who knows what will grow out of the IGF this week? Stay tuned to find out who will win the Best Venture and Outstanding Venture Awards, and other exciting announcements. Last year’s Outstanding Venture award went to CCIA member and Colorado’s own, Vartega Inc!

April 14, 2017 – Andrew Maxey with Vartega accepting his Outstanding Venture Award at the NREL Industry Growth Forum on April 13-14 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Amy Glickson / NREL)