The Ascend Energy & Mobility Accelerator offers support to entrepreneurs creating solutions to energy and mobility problems in Detroit and Michigan
As we’re getting into 2024, TechTown Detroit is excited about what’s in store for an energy and mobility program offered in partnership with one of our ecosystem partners!
VentureWell — a nonprofit providing training, funding and resources to science- and technology-focused innovators and startup teams across the country — received a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Technology Transitions for creating programming and support for energy startup teams and entrepreneurs. The program is the Ascend Energy & Mobility Accelerator, which trained its inaugural cohort of 10 Michigan-affiliated startup teams during last summer and fall. Offered in partnership with TechTown, the six-week program helps bridge the gap between customer discovery and investment readiness by offering support for entrepreneurs who are working on solutions to energy and mobility problems.
The grant was awarded during the second round of the Energy Program for Innovation Clusters (EPIC) Prize program, which recognizes the most innovative incubators around the country. The Ascend Energy & Mobility Accelerator was one of four incubators to receive this prestigious prize, coming after a year-long competition that disbursed $4 million to help regional incubators fund vital activities.
TechTown steps up to the plate
Several of our team members and partners were very hands-on in this first cohort! Raina Baker, outreach and engagement manager of our Tech-based Programs, and Tu Le, an entrepreneur-in-residence who mentored participants of our Start Studio program, were both on the Regional Advisory Committee, which provided advice and support throughout the program’s development.
Danielle Manley, senior director of strategic partnerships for TechTown and Wayne State University, and Rainesha Williams-Fox, program manager for TechTown’s Mobility Accelerator Innovation Network (MAIN), worked with VentureWell to pair founders from TechTown’s programs who would most benefit from participating in the cohort.
“Married with TechTown’s ongoing mobility efforts, Ascend is another opportunity to expand our reach and build relationships with innovators and thinkers who are learning and championing the work,” says Baker, who also works with MAIN. For Ascend, Baker also helped draft criteria, suggested mentors and assisted with the final sessions of the program that took place last September at TechTown. “Increasing resources for mobility and energy-based entrepreneurs is not only timely but critical to the work of repositioning southeast Michigan as a powerful contributor in this space. The Ascend program is an opportunity to support transportation, sustainability and accessibility efforts but also to encourage people to think about mobility broadly.”
Looking towards an energy- and mobility-focused future
Applications for the next Ascend Energy & Mobility Accelerator will open this summer. As VentureWell, TechTown and DOE’s EPIC Prize continue to develop this accelerator, our organization looks forward to uplifting even more founders who are making progress in Detroit’s and Michigan’s energy and mobility ecosystems.
“It affords TechTown the opportunity to provide our founders with training that will position them to access capital,” Manley and Williams-Fox say about the grant in a joint quote. “Because the award provides for multiple cohorts, it allows TechTown to plan for and develop founders over a longer period of time.”