Finalists Named for 2024 Energy Startup Demonstration Cohort Program

Grid Catalyst names seven energy and cleantech startups as finalists for 2024 Demonstration Cohort Program

Startups will pitch to Minnesota corporations, utilities, and partners in higher education, nonprofit, and government for the opportunity to launch pilot projects in 2024

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Minnesota clean energy accelerator Grid Catalyst today announced the finalists for its 2024 Demonstration Cohort program: Carba, GridWrap, Aza Power Systems, Prezerv, Solar Steam, NeoCharge, and Blip Energy. The seven startups will pitch to the Grid Catalyst Innovators Network – made up of local Fortune 500 businesses, nonprofits, utilities, and higher education institutions – on October 4 and 5, for the opportunity to partner on a pilot program. Grid Catalyst is the only clean energy accelerator focused on project demonstration and deploying solutions for cold climates, with a unique approach of matching startups with Minnesota partners to develop pilot projects to showcase the potential and viability of these emerging technologies.

“These finalists represent the tremendous opportunity we have in Minnesota to develop and deploy clean energy solutions,” said Nina Axelson, founder of Grid Catalyst. “We are at an important intersection of global demand, technological discovery, public and private investment, and a dynamic and climate-responsible market calling for these solutions. By matching these startups with our Innovators Network partners to demonstrate their technologies, we are accelerating the pathway to commercialization and addressing climate change faster and more effectively.”

This year’s finalists include startups working in electric vehicle charging, grid distribution, ammonia-powered engines, AI-powered 3D mapping for infrastructure projects, carbon sequestration, industrial solar heating, and residential-scale battery storage. These are key technologies for the transformation of Minnesota’s energy system, and pilot projects are essential to these businesses securing new customers and entering new markets. 

“Carba is seeking a partner with a passion for cleantech who understands that the reduction of CO2 from the atmosphere is necessary and the time is now,” said Andrew Jones, CEO and founder of Carba, which is one of the 2024 Demonstration Cohort finalists. “We look forward to the possibility of finding that partner within the Grid Catalyst Innovators Network and leverage this program’s unique opportunity to demonstrate what our technology can do to support carbon sequestration and local communities.” 

All projects will be deployed in Minnesota with Grid Catalyst’s Innovators Network partners, which include 3M, CenterPoint Energy, Connexus Energy, Cummins, the University of St. Thomas Microgrid Research Center, Xcel Energy, and the University of Minnesota. Through their partnership with startups, members of the Innovators Network gain access to novel technologies that can solve system and customer challenges and exemplify their commitment to accelerating clean energy deployment, strengthening regional economic development, and taking action on  climate change.

Minnesota institutions interested in joining the Innovators Network and supporting pilot development still have the opportunity to become partners before the pitch events. Projects are slated to receive supportive funding from the newly established Minnesota Energy Alley initiative, in partnership with the State of Minnesota and Clean Energy Economy Minnesota.

About the 2024 Demonstration Cohort Finalists

Carba – Based in Minnesota 

Carba is an innovative cleantech company leading the charge in carbon dioxide removal (CDR) solutions. With decades of scientific experience and expertise in biomass pyrolysis and utilization, reactor engineering, and biomass conversion technologies, Carba, Inc., founded in 2021, stands as a pioneering force in CDR. 

GridWrap – Based in California

GridWrap Inc., a woman-owned cleantech company, specializes in its patented Composite Wire Wrap and Pole Wrap technologies. These groundbreaking innovations not only strengthen grid infrastructure but also double power capacity without causing any downtime. This significant development is essential for achieving cost-effective, safe, resilient, and dependable 100% renewable energy goals. Our mission centers around strengthening a robust grid while fostering a sustainable and green planet.

Aza Power Systems –  Based in Minnesota 

Aza Power Systems has a portfolio of technologies that enable ammonia as a combustion fuel, a 100% carbon-free energy. Aza was founded by two faculty at the University of Minnesota and spun out in early 2023 to become a leader in ammonia combustion. Aza has technologies that enable ammonia to be used as fuel in generators, engines, and thermal applications. Ammonia (NH3) is a complementary fuel to hydrogen and together, solves many of the industrial decarbonization markets from maritime and mining to industrial heat and power generation. 

Prezerv – Based in Massachusetts

Prezerv is building an innovative platform that combines artificial intelligence, advanced signal processing, ground-penetrating radar to provide automated, accurate 3D underground maps to municipalities, construction contractors, infrastructure agencies and utilities. Prezerv’s platform is designed to solve the problems caused by non-visible, underground utility lines accidentally encountered during civil and energy infrastructure projects, causing costly project delays, property damages, personal injuries and environmental harms. By quickly and automatically generating an accurate 3D map of the underground for large areas, Prezerv’s platform will accelerate and save costs for a wide range of construction projects and provide significant environmental benefits.

Solar Steam – Based in Alberta, Canada

SolarSteam delivering renewable heat to industrial and institutional clients through novel enclosed concentrated solar technology is a game-changer to decarbonize some of the highest emitting and hardest-to-abate industry segments. The design concentrates the sun’s thermal energy to directly heat fluids to produce steam or hot water which can be utilized for industrial processes, space heating and cooling, and agricultural technology applications. 

NeoCharge – Based in California

NeoCharge is a cleantech company leading the way in home electrification and electric vehicle (EV) charging. Our core hardware offering, the Smart Splitter, allows for affordable and accessible home EV charging by tapping into existing 240-volt outlets. This negates the need for expensive electrical panel upgrades and rewiring, saving homeowners and renters an average of $2,000. Their software platform, NeoCharge Connect, is designed to optimize home energy usage, cut carbon emissions, and enable utility bill savings through seamless integrations with utilities, EVs, and home energy devices. 

Blip Energy – Based in Illinois

Blip unlocks energy equity by solving for accessibility, building a new category of smart, affordable energy storage to add millions of homes to the smart grid. A hybrid hardware/software solution for energy management that works in any home without barriers around permitting and installation. Low-income families and urban infrastructure stand to benefit the most from distributed energy resources, but face the greatest barriers in accessing them. Blip is determined to bridge the electrical divide with a drop-in, smart, affordable, storage solution for widespread deployment. 


About Grid Catalyst 

The mission of Grid Catalyst is to create equitable pathways for entrepreneurs and technologies to solve northern climate challenges. This is done collaboratively with partners in local and state government, industry, nonprofit, and community organizations to address gaps in the development of clean energy and climate technology in our region. The program includes connecting entrepreneurs to project demonstration, mentorship and development, and investments to grow their businesses. The latest cycle of the Cohort was made possible through a Strategic Award from the IN2 Channel Partner Network, a partnership between Wells Fargo and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The University of Minnesota Technological Leadership Institute is a key collaborator for the IN2 partnership. 

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Nina Axelson

Grid Catalyst was founded in 2021 by Nina Axelson, an industry leader with nearly 20 years of experience in energy and sustainability. Previously, Nina was the VP of Sustainability for Ever-Green Energy and served on the board of the International District Energy Association.

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