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Texas Named One of Four Founding States for Clean Energy Incubator Network (CEIN)
In February 2015, the federal government and private industry joined forces to launch an ambitious new program to promote research and development of clean energy technologies by businesses and academic institutions and to use these developments to help establish, guide and fund new clean-energy start-ups. The Clean Energy Incubator Network, or CEIN, is a joint project of the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), a non-profit research organization funded by the utility industry. Together, they join their spheres of influence to create a powerful network of resources for clean energy innovation and commerce.
The DOE-funded network is intended to connect various businesses, individual entrepreneurs, and schools in an effort to identify useful technologies and business practices in order to give a hand to clean-energy-centered startups, as well as to allow networking and communications opportunities to those already established in the sector. The idea is to foster new companies that are committed to clean energy development while also continuing to make strides in clean energy technology.
Four states were chosen to be the founding states for the CEIN: Illinois, Michigan, California, and Texas. Texas's headquarters for its contribution to the CEIN is UT Austin's Austin Technology Incubator, known as ATI. Although the concept of business incubators may seem fairly recent, ATI has been in operation for 25 years, with a focus on finding ways to get funding for its participants. According to ATI's website, 85% of the 2012 graduating class received funding while at the incubator, amounting to over $230 million, collectively. ATI has its own network of advisors and mentors to partner with budding talent and investors who are willing to fund promising ideas. It even collaborates with other organizations that help build and support new businesses in the Central Texas area , such as DreamIt, Techstars, Comprehensive TeX Archive Network (CTAN), Capital Factory, TechRanch, and Incubation Station, among others.
Current members of ATI include such companies as Bractlet, which collects and analyzes data to forecast savings from energy-efficient projects; Enervalis, a provider of SaaS middleware that enables sustainable energy solutions for electric vehicles, buildings, and micro-grids; J R Thermal, developer of innovative thermal and heat-transfer technologies; and Wetzel Blade, a manufacturer of replacement blades for wind turbines, including an innovative modular design that allows blades to be transported without special clearances and permits. ATI membership is not limited to clean-energy businesses, but about a third of its current membership is comprised by such companies, and with the inauguration of the CEIN, that number may increase exponentially.
Texas has long been a leader in clean energy. As a world leader in wind energy, a significant portion of electricity in Texas comes from West test wind turbines.