The secret weapon in the large-company toolbox

Intrigued by new energy management software, the Utility Accountant by Load IQ, Siemens decided to underwrite a small-scale beta test of it in Germany. Liking what they saw, they opted for another beta test, at 10 times the size of the first one. What’s so appealing? Load IQ’s Utility Accountant enables property or facility managers to monitor the energy consumption each of their appliances across multiple buildings in real time at once on one screen. AT&T is testing it too.
How did Siemens and AT&T know about Load IQ? They were introduced to Load IQ by a trusted source: the Nevada Institute for Renewable Energy Commercialization, or NIREC, a clean-energy incubator. Why would Siemens partner with a clean energy incubator? To gain early access to pre-screened, burgeoning technologies ahead of their competition from a reliable source.
“The focus of clean energy incubators, first and foremost, is commercialization. They are interested in supporting the development of technologies that hold the promise of a materially significant market share and scalability,” explained James F. Groelinger, Executive Director of the Clean Energy Alliance, the national association of cleantech incubators. “Companies start small with a big idea, and the most successful entrepreneurs seek advisors who can speed up the learning and profitability curves. Incubators are a one-stop shop for all the services entrepreneurs need.”
Coach, Engage, and Accelerate
Clean energy incubators have become the secret weapon in the large company toolbox, guiding entrepreneurs through the healthy birth of their businesses. Clean energy incubators, such as those in the Clean Energy Alliance specialize in “birthing” clean energy entrepreneurships, including those in energy efficiency, potential “clean” traditional or renewable energy technologies, or products that reduce the energy consumption of a large-scale manufacturing process.
All incubators are not created equal, and thus they specialize not only in industry — such as cleantech — but also in skill set. Incubators help entrepreneurs prepare their business plans, identify and understand their target market, focus their business model based on market conditions, identify and build revenue streams, forecast sales and prepare financial statements (and accounting systems), create their websites and marketing tools, and raise funds, either through presentations/introductions to investors or through grants.
Importantly, incubators also provide executive coaching, helping founders who often are technologists or scientists think like a business person, build their team, and get through the various “valleys of death” on the entrepreneurial journey.