About our commitment

Grid Catalyst was founded in 2021 by partners with decades of experience in clean energy development, integrating renewables and innovation into utility and energy systems, launching and supporting energy businesses across the sector.

We are coming together in support of the next generation of big ideas and practical solutions to make our energy system more resilient and to achieve urgent decarbonization objectives.

energy startups Have Unique Challenges and need a Customized approach to Commercialize

Minnesota has great success with building innovation across a range of business sizes and sectors. However, energy acceleration has a unique set of challenges that require specialized pathways to growth, especially recognizing the rate of new product and market development occurring in this sector.

Grid Catalyst will address common hurdles to market introduction for businesses with a great idea, but faced with these barriers:

  • Lack of demonstration project partners to prove out solution performance and attract investors
  • Identifying investors looking for longer time horizons and interested in more capital-intensive ventures, like manufacturing 
  • Players and institutions that haven’t yet adapted to new regulatory and business model dynamics that are more responsive to emerging tech

What we do

Grid Catalyst works with innovators and startups to help them on the path to commercialization. We are one of the only programs in the United States offering a demonstration cohort to help startups to bridge the commercialization valley-of-death. 

We have also developed the Cleantech Innovation Pathways program to create opportunities for more entrepreneurs in Minnesota to thrive in energy and cleantech. It’s about access and building an ecosystem that supports innovation from across the state. This program includes workshops, training, networking, entrepreneur coaching, and a virtual incubator planned for early 2025. 

What is Unique about Clean Energy Accelerators?

Accelerators have proven their value in the marketplace across several metrics:

  • Nearly double the debt and equity financing for accelerated ventures
  • Revenue growth is 50% higher
  • Average of 16% more full-time hires 


Nina Axelson

Grid Catalyst was founded in 2021 by Nina Axelson, an industry leader with nearly 20 years of experience in energy and sustainability. She led her previous organizations with innovative programming and a focus on integrating environmental and financial results.

She will leverage her background in business development, corporate social responsibility, and renewable energy deployment to lead the Grid Catalyst cohort.

Prior to developing Grid Catalyst, Nina was the VP of Sustainability for Ever-Green Energy. She previously served on the board of the International District Energy Association, where she led the development of the industry’s association for the advancement and empowerment of women in this field. 

Grid catalyst founder: nina axelson

Fiscal Sponsor Partner

Clean Energy Economy Minnesota

Grid Catalyst was launched in partnership with Clean Energy Economy MN (CEEM) and continues to partner with CEEM in support of the Energy Innovation Hub and the development of education, workforce, and career pathways to bolster our regional energy economy. As an industry-led, nonprofit organization, CEEM provides the business voice for energy efficiency and clean energy in Minnesota. CEEM educates Minnesotans and policymakers about the economic benefits of transitioning to a clean energy economy. Through our partnership with CEEM, Grid Catalyst taps into a network of partners that possess decades of experience in clean energy development, integrating renewables and innovation into utility and energy systems, and experience launching and supporting energy businesses across the sector.

Building the Runway

With the incredible potential for growth in this sector, now is the time to establish a program that makes it easier for these businesses to scale and deploy in Minnesota. The accelerator will build on proven mechanisms to ensure that the accelerator process has strong outcomes by providing the following to cohort participants:

  • a network of mentors specializing in financial, business, technical, policy, and manufacturing/deployment acumen
  • demonstration partners and utility allies 
  • access to investors familiar with the clean energy investment life-cycle that can work with businesses at this stage of commercialization
  • support of a group of like-minded entrepreneurs 
  • visibility from participation in a reputable program with strong PR partnerships experienced with economic inclusion to support equitable outcomes

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