Award helps BRITE fund startups

Partnership with Mich. accelerator supports new tech

WARREN — BRITE Energy Innovators is growing to help technology startups outside of Ohio through a $220,000 award from a clean tech program, the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator, the downtown agency will split with another startup accelerator.

The partnership with Centrepolis Accelerator in Michigan will help launch a joint program to support underrepresented climate technology entrepreneurs in Ohio and Michigan to help them reach commercialization faster.

The funding allows BRITE to blend its strength in business development and Centrepolis Accelerator’s skill in product development, “so it’s kind of like left brain meets right brain,” Sara Daugherty, BRITE’s chief of staff, said.

“What we’ll be able to do is expand our current programming to include participants from Michigan and then Michigan, vice versa, will be able to include our companies and, hopefully, this will allow for more prototyping and getting to market what we call hard tech. … It will help them accelerate their development,” Daugherty said.

Hard tech is a physical device.

Centrepolis Accelerator, in the Detroit suburb of Southfield, Mich., is heavily staffed with engineers and former product managers from the auto industry, “so when it comes to industry expertise around electric mobility, they are second to none, and northeast Ohio and Warren, with all of the activity we are seeing in startups in this space, it’s very synergistic,” Daugherty said.

“In addition to allowing us to exchange members on both sides, we are going to be creating additional training as well as working to help identify potential sites in legacy energy communities … which are underserved communities for pilot opportunities,” Daugherty said.

She said a strategy is being developed to increase diversity as part of the capacity building in those underrepresented areas.

The award is part of $970,000 the incubator, which is funded by the Wells Fargo Foundation, gave away to seven winners to fund “innovative and impactful” projects intended to bolster and diversify clean and agricultural technology ecosystems, according to a news release.

Winners received between $100,000 and $250,000.

Applications were reviewed based on their potential for capacity building, with a focus on fostering diversity, equity and inclusion, or supporting pilot and demonstration projects for startups.


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