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our operationsincubator plays matchmaker with businesses, new energy tech

2 min read | september 09, 2022

Chevron has teamed up with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to form Chevron Studio, a technology incubator to bridge the gap between exciting new technologies and the market.

why it matters

It’s all about connection. Scientists and researchers at national labs and universities are often pioneering new technologies but have no way to bring them to the market and scale them up. Entrepreneurs have the business acumen and resources to commercially develop a new technology but don’t always have the tech at hand.

Chevron Studio connects the two sides, making it possible for cutting-edge technology and inventions that may enable lower carbon intensity to be deployed on a larger scale and have a greater impact.

“We know there’s a lot of intellectual property developed in the national labs and universities that, with the right nurturing, can be developed into businesses offering promising solutions to lower carbon intensity,” said Gautam Phanse, strategic relationship manager for Chevron Technology Ventures.

“By connecting entrepreneurs with these technologies, Chevron Studio provides a pathway to scale and commercialize the technologies.”

Gautam Phanse

Strategic relationship manager for Chevron Technology Ventures

This critical component, getting the invention to take shape and hit the market, can help bring affordable, reliable and ever-cleaner energy to more people and businesses.

how it works

Chevron Studio differs from typical technology incubators in that it provides a complete pathway for scaling up from the laboratory to a field trial. It acts as a matchmaker: Chevron Studio matches entrepreneurs with early-stage technologies and inventions from national labs and universities and then provides the seed funding for the entrepreneurs to scale up the technology to a semi-commercial scale.

Katie Woslager, NREL program manager for Chevron Studio, says that Chevron Studio offers financial support and technical assistance to develop and deploy these technologies.

“Chevron approached our lab, given our experience and expertise running technology incubator programs,” Woslager said. “We started a conversation and created a program that would be beneficial to support the formation of new energy companies focused on lower carbon solutions.”

There are three phases in the program:

discovery

entrepreneurs are connected to technology based on interest or expertise

scale up

entrepreneurs build teams, scale up businesses and technology to demonstrate value, raise external financing if necessary

field trial

companies trial technology with minimum commercial-size equipment to demonstrate feasibility and value

what to watch

The focus areas for the first cohort of companies are carbon utilization, hydrogen and renewable energy, energy storage systems and solutions for a circular economy. The most compelling and competitive proposals will advance to the second phase. Those who demonstrate success in scaling up and a potential to grow business will advance from scale up phase to field trial phase.

The response has been positive for the first round from the universities and national labs as well as from entrepreneurs. The recently announced first cohort of entrepreneurs and technologies includes a mix of intellectual property from top universities and entrepreneurs with a range of start-up experience.

The application process will be opened up every six months, and the next cohort is expected to be chosen in the first quarter of 2023.

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