Our story begins with four cleantech startups.
Ten years later, Greentown Labs is the largest climatetech startup incubator in North America—and we’re proudly home to more than 180 startups that are building a sustainable future for all.
In 2011, four startups joined together to split rent on a Cambridge warehouse. They were cleantech companies with a common need for prototyping space, but none of them imagined that what they started would turn into Greentown Labs, the largest climatetech startup incubator in North America.
The startups—Promethean Power Systems, Altaeros, Coincident (now Embue), and OsComp Systems (now Reach Production Solutions)—became a community wherein the spirit of collaboration spread to every facet of entrepreneurship. From sharing equipment to swapping staff to lending emotional support, the founding startups and the others who joined them were benefiting far beyond what they anticipated.
The benefits of that collaboration carried the unforeseen incubator from the Cambridge warehouse to Boston’s Fort Point neighborhood to Somerville’s Union Square. The number of companies jumped from four to 55 in a few short years, and now Greentown is home to more than 180 climatetech startups and has locations in Somerville, MA and Houston, TX.
This year, we’re launching #Greentown10 to celebrate the startups, corporate partners, ecosystem collaborators, and other climate champions who have worked together over Greentown’s first decade. Together, they’ve built a supportive community that is more than the sum of its parts—and is all in the name of climate action.
Greentown at its founding was the perfect storm of things coming together to make something special happen. It was a group of entrepreneurs, all with shared vision and goals and all aligned on the idea that each of us would get far more out of building a community and pooling resources and capabilities than we would put into it.
More Than $1 Billion Raised for Climate Technologies
10 Years of Partnerships for Climate Action
In Greentown Labs’ earliest days, entrepreneurs faced a roadblock: they really, really needed Dassault Systèmes SOLIDWORKS software to design and build their climate technologies, and this critical tool was outside of their financial reach.
So, in a true entrepreneur’s hustle and spirit, one of the founders decided that they might as well track down someone at Dassault Systèmes SOLIDWORKS and ask for it. Jason Hanna, the co-founder of Coincident (now Embue), cold emailed Dassault Systèmes SOLIDWORKS to see if the corporate would offer free software licenses to Greentown startups—and much to the budding community’s delight, Dassault Systèmes SOLIDWORKS said yes.
That first bridge between Greentown startups and corporates launched Greentown’s partnerships program. The program fosters the magic that happens when these two groups work together successfully. Many partners give crucial support to Greentown’s startups by becoming strategic partners, investors, customers, and pilot sites, and others offer valuable resources, services, connections, expertise, and mentorship.
Greentown Expands Nationally
Our 10-year anniversary isn’t the only big milestone for Greentown in 2021—we also opened our first out-of-state expansion in Houston, TX!
Greentown Houston opened its doors on Earth Day 2021, and we’ve welcomed more than 30 members. We’re thrilled to be supporting climatetech startups in Houston, TX—an energy hub unlike any other that’s capable of leading the way in renewable energy and the decarbonization of our planet.
Community at Our Core
Many of our members say the supportive community is the best part of Greentown, and we couldn’t agree more. Our entrepreneurs share tips, connections, and ideas, united by a common commitment to tackle climate change and an understanding that no one can do this alone. Watch our members share what they’re working on, what the Greentown community means to them, and more!
Celebrating Greentown Alums’ Climate Action
To the Greentown team, there’s nothing better than seeing our members’ technologies deployed out in the world. We’re proud to have incubated more than 400 startups over the past 10 years, and our network of hundreds of alumni are doing meaningful climate work with the technologies that years ago were developed at Greentown.
In honor of #Greentown10, we checked in with several of our alumni to hear their latest news and how the Greentown community and network have shaped their growth. Learn about them here!
We accomplished more prototyping in our first month at Greentown than we had in the previous three months on our own. We were able to do this because of the incredible network of contractors supporting Greentown companies. Through friends at other Greentown companies, we met truly excellent mechanical and electrical engineering contractors, some of whom we’ve continued working with to this day.
Careers in Climatetech
In Greentown’s 10 years of existence, our members have created more than 8,400 jobs—that’s 8,400 climate champions putting to work their unique set of skills and experiences to solve the climate crisis.
These thousands of new jobs illustrate that Greentown startups are not only developing climatetech solutions—they’re building a climate workforce that is ready to harness the massive economic opportunities of the energy transition. And that climate workforce is hiring.
There’s a place for everyone in climatetech, whether they’ve previously worked in traditional energy, have experience tackling climate change, or are new to the climate and energy fields. Just ask Patricia Vega, CEO of Greentown Houston member Quantum New Energy, who worked in traditional energy for 25 years before founding a climatetech startup. And recently, we were encouraged to see 27 labor unions release a report showing that the energy transition could create 1.1 million jobs in Texas alone. The jobs are here. We just need you!
A Look at Greentown’s Biggest Annual Event Throughout the Years
Every day, there is magic happening at Greentown Labs—from scientists and engineers developing groundbreaking climatetech innovations in our labs to entrepreneurs making impactful connections with each other over coffee. And for one day a year, we open up our lab doors so that you can see the climate action that’s at work here year-round.
We held our first DEMO Day in 2013, two years after Greentown’s founding. Throughout the years, DEMO Day grew into an event that featured lab tours, dynamic speaking programs featuring industry leaders and elected officials, popcorn pitches from our members, and, most crucially, opportunities for the entire climatetech and cleantech ecosystem to connect with our startups. We regularly announced big news at the event, from our in-state expansion to our members’ product launches.
In 2020, we took DEMO Day to the next level. The first-ever Greentown Labs Climatetech Summit introduced what we see as the four pillars of climate action—technology, finance, policy, and justice—and featured programming on each, alongside extra opportunities to network with our startups. This virtual event drew more than 2,200 attendees from 30 countries around the world.
At the second annual Climatetech Summit, which happened at Greentown HQ, Greentown Houston, and via livestream, Greentown’s entrepreneurs shared the solutions they’re developing and what they need to bring them to market. The event also featured key technology areas that are driving momentum to equitably tackle the climate crisis and explored the plentiful opportunities for everyone to be a part of the energy transition that’s already unfolding.
LaunchingStartup-corporate Partnerships to Commercialize Climatetech
Both startups and corporates have enormous roles to play in tackling the climate crisis, and their impact is most significant when they work together. Corporates unlock key opportunities for climatetech deployment at scale, due to their capital, purchasing power, and market access—especially given that climatetech is a largely B2B industry with high capital requirements. Meanwhile, climatetech startups can nimbly innovate on the cutting edge of solutions to decarbonize the global economy and build resilient communities. Startup-corporate partnerships are a critically effective, efficient, and reliable way to power climatetech solutions into the marketplace.
That’s where Greentown Launch, Greentown Labs’ flagship startup-corporate partnerships accelerator, comes in. Working across the largest greenhouse-gas emitting sectors—agriculture, buildings, electricity, manufacturing, and transportation—Greentown Launch’s mission is to forge partnerships between climatetech startups that are developing crucial climate solutions and the corporates that can get those technologies to market—all in the name of accelerating climate action. Read the full #Greentown10 feature on Greentown Launch here!
HOW CAN YOU GET INVOLVED?
- Startups: apply to a future Launch program—sign up here to hear about upcoming programs. Greentown Launch programs are open to all startups, anywhere in the world, regardless of whether the startups are Greentown Labs members. Launch participants receive Greentown membership for the duration of the program.
- Corporates: partner with Launch. The focus of our entire partnerships program is to help corporates collaborate with our startup community. For corporates, Greentown Launch is a super-charged version of our partnerships program, a way for them to meaningfully deepen their engagement with climatetech startups.
- Startup coaches and former founders: become a Launch mentor.
- Other climate champions: attend a Launch program Kickoff or Final Showcase and sign up for Launch updates.
Momentum for Climate Action
A Reflection from Our CEO Emily Reichert
“As 2021 comes to a close, so does #Greentown10, our year-long celebration of the startups, partners, ecosystem collaborators, and other climate champions who have played an active part in building Greentown Labs over the past 10 years.
As CEO of Greentown Labs—and proudly Greentown’s first official employee—I’ve had the honor of watching the Greentown community grow up over the past 10 years. We’ve gone from four founders to a community that’s supported more than 450 startups, with more than 70 corporate partners and more than 140,000 sq. ft. of lab space. Our startups have created nearly 8,000 jobs, raised more than $1.5 billion in investment, and contributed back at least $1.6 billion to local economies.
It’s been an incredible 10 years, but we know we can’t stop there! As the Sixth Assessment Report from the IPCC vividly stated, the next 10 years will be the most important in our quest for meaningful climate action. While we have some of the climate solutions we need, many more must still be brought to scale. So now more than ever before, it is the time for a climatetech revolution.“