The program, which is designed to support underrepresented founders, welcomes six startups
Somerville, Mass., and Houston, Texas, Feb. 21, 2023 — Greentown Labs and Browning the Green Space (BGS) today announce six startup participants for the Advancing Climatetech and Clean Energy Leaders Program (ACCEL), a new accelerator intended to bolster BIPOC-led startups as they develop critical climatetech solutions by offering access to funding, networking connections, resources, and opportunities that structural inequities put out of reach.
ACCEL combines startup acceleration with a curated curriculum, incubation at Greentown, and extensive mentorship from Greentown and BGS’s networks of industry experts. The recurring, year-long program focuses on product and technology development, market development, fundraising, and management and team development. The selected founding teams will each receive a non-dilutive $25k grant to support their startup’s growth.
After a highly competitive selection and deliberation process that saw close to 80 applicants, a cohort of six cutting-edge startups was selected. These early-stage startups, which hail from the Boston and Houston metro areas where Greentown’s incubators are located, are working on innovations from bio-based polymers to solar technology.
- Active Surfaces (Salem, Mass.) unlocks dual land-use applications through its ultra-thin-film, flexible solar technology. Its co-founders are Shivam Bhakta and Richard Swartwout.
- DrinKicks (Houston, Texas) is a sneaker-themed consumer-products company that is focused on repurposing food waste and recycled materials into sustainable goods such as shoes, sports equipment, and clothing, all while educating consumers on the power of the circular economy. Its co-founders are Kristeen Reynolds, Michael Fletcher, and Kristen Lee.
- EarthBond (Cambridge, Mass.) leverages group financing and carbon accounting to lower costs and risk in the energy transition of Nigeria’s $14B fuel-based, off-grid generator market. Its founder is Chidalu Onyenso.
- florrent (Amherst, Mass.) is a bio-based materials and energy storage company providing solutions to address critical bottlenecks to the global decarbonization and electrification of utilities, transportation, and buildings. Its co-founders are Jose LaSalle, Joe Hastry, and Alexander Nichols. florrent is a current Greentown member.
- frakktal (Houston, Texas) is a B2B materials company developing bio-based polymer processes for the replacement of fossil-fuel-based feedstocks across industries. Its founder is Jhana Porter. frakktal is a current Greentown member.
- SpadXTech (Worcester, Mass.) is contributing to the reduction of CO2 emissions impacting several industries such as packaging, textiles, transportation, filtration, and construction through the manufacturing of its core and versatile material platform technology. Its co-founders are Lina M. González and Connor Crawford.
This program is a unique partnership between Greentown, the largest climatetech startup incubator in North America, and BGS, a nonprofit dedicated to making clean energy and other climate-related fields more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. ACCEL is supported by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), a state economic development agency dedicated to accelerating the growth of the clean energy sector across the Commonwealth, and the Barr Foundation, a Boston-based foundation with a regional focus, working with partners to elevate the arts, advance solutions for climate change, and connect all students to success in high school and beyond.
“Supporting innovative, BIPOC-led startups will help to bridge the racial wealth gap and create seats at the table for valuable voices,” said Jennifer Daloisio, Chief Executive Officer at MassCEC. “The ACCEL program will position these companies and their founders to not only help lead climate-critical work, but also to build a more inclusive clean energy ecosystem. MassCEC prioritizes equity and environmental justice in step with Massachusetts’ climate goals, and is pleased to support this critical effort through our Clean Energy Equity Workforce Programming.”
“We are excited to support ACCEL’s development of targeted mentorship and educational programming for BIPOC-led startups,” said Kathryn Wright, the Barr Foundation’s Senior Program Officer for Clean Energy. “These companies have tremendous potential to drive an equitable clean energy future and positively impact our region.”
ACCEL builds on elements of Greentown’s successful incubator programming and its Greentown Go accelerator programs, along with BGS’s expertise in company building and supporting underserved communities. The curriculum for ACCEL will be led by VentureWell, a nonprofit with deep expertise in the climatetech space that funds and trains innovators to create successful, socially beneficial businesses.
“We are thrilled and eager to support this exceptional cohort of startup leaders as they tackle some of our world’s biggest climate challenges,” said Kevin T. Taylor, Interim Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer at Greentown Labs. “Through partnerships with Browning the Green Space and VentureWell—and with the support from MassCEC and the Barr Foundation—we look forward to offering intentional mentorship, training, and networking opportunities to help these BIPOC-led startups thrive.”
“We are inspired by and excited to support the wealth of innovation and fresh perspectives on climate solutions offered by our inaugural ACCEL cohort of startup leaders,” said Kerry Bowie, Executive Director and President of Browning the Green Space. “Through this partnership with Greentown Labs, we are able to build critical support infrastructure for entrepreneurs of color and accelerate the equitable development and distribution of climate solutions across all communities.”
“We congratulate the six outstanding startups that have been chosen for this initial ACCEL cohort and look forward to working closely with them as they take the next steps in building their businesses,” said Christina Tamer, Director of Early-Stage Innovator and Venture Development Programs at VentureWell. “VentureWell has supported startups in accelerating the commercialization of their innovations for over 27 years, and we’re excited to offer an educational experience to these companies as they each map out the path to bringing their critical climate solutions to market. We’re grateful for the opportunity to partner with Greentown Labs and BGS to create the necessary space where this community of underrepresented entrepreneurs can focus on securing the resources they need to be successful.”
The ACCEL cohort will participate in a public kickoff event on Feb. 23, 2023 at Greentown’s Boston location. Learn more and register here.
About Greentown Labs
Greentown Labs is a community of climate action pioneers working to design a more sustainable world. As the largest climatetech startup incubator in North America, Greentown Labs brings together startups, corporates, investors, policymakers, and many others with a focus on scaling climate solutions. Driven by the mission of providing startups the resources, knowledge, connections, and equipment they need to thrive, Greentown Labs offers lab space, shared office space, a machine shop, an electronics lab, software and business resources, and a large network of corporate customers, investors, and more. With incubators in Somerville, Mass. and Houston, Texas, Greentown Labs is home to more than 200 startups and has supported more than 500 since the incubator’s founding in 2011. These startups have collectively created more than 24,000 jobs, raised more than $4 billion in funding, and generated more than $9.8 billion in regional economic impact. For more information, please visit www.greentownlabs.com or Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
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About Browning the Green Space
Browning the Green Space (BGS) is a nonprofit coalition of leaders and organizations, primarily in the New England region, that share the passion to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in clean energy and climatetech. BGS seeks to facilitate a just energy transition by putting Black and Brown communities first, and enabling systems change at the intersection of social, environmental, and economic justice. BGS is powering a just energy transition by creating jobs, building wealth, and reducing the energy burden in Black and Brown communities. By removing barriers and expanding access, BGS seeks to close the racial wealth gap while combating climate change. BGS is focused on a comprehensive approach to addressing DEI across key clean energy and climatetech areas through five connected but distinct focus areas: Careers, Companies, Capital, Contracts, and Communities.
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