#1 most loved electric vehicle, solar, & battery news & analysis site in the world. Support our work today!

Clean Power

Published on June 25th, 2020 | by Rocky Mountain Institute


Rocky Mountain Institute Launches New Climate Tech Accelerator

June 25th, 2020 by  

Originally published on RMI.
By Bryan Guido HassinElizabeth Hartman

Faced with the rising urgency of the climate crisis, Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) and New Energy Nexus are proud to announce the launch of a new joint venture called Third Derivative (or D3, for short) — built to accelerate the rate of climate innovation. This program works with startups from around the world to connect them with the resources needed to commercialize and scale more rapidly than ever before.

Reflecting the systemic nature of climate change, D3 takes a systems approach to building the comprehensive ecosystem needed for climate technology innovation to succeed, connecting four essential elements: an accelerator, funding, global corporate partners, and unique market and policy expertise.


D3’s accelerator is designed to support the specific needs of climate entrepreneurs:

  • Global: we are built on New Energy Nexus’s experience running and collaborating with 100+ climate innovation programs all over the world.
  • Virtual: our global entrepreneurs spend their time and resources building their ventures, not relocating or traveling all over the world.
  • Bespoke: we tailor the program experience to the unique needs of each startup; climate is such a broad category that one size could never fit all.
  • Systems-oriented: by bringing 30–50 startups into each cohort, many occupying different parts of the same sector’s value chain, D3 supports system-level innovation.
  • Outcome-focused: our startups are urgently seeking breakthrough deals and so are we; this program is less on curriculum and more on coaching and connecting.


Climate entrepreneurs often have large capital requirements and face long paths to market, which has historically made fundraising difficult. D3 reduces the time and effort entrepreneurs spend searching for funding by bringing climate-focused venture capital investors directly into the program. D3’s investor partners help select startups for participation in the program, which comes with an optional $100,000 seed investment, and then work closely with them to define milestones and targets to unlock follow-on funding. This gives D3’s investors unprecedented access to de-risked deal flow aligned with their investment theses.

As of D3’s soft launch on May 19, there were five committed investor partners spanning three continents and representing more than $300 million in capital. And as the wave of climate tech investment swells, more investors are joining all the time.

Corporate Partners

Commercializing climate innovation often requires navigating sales to, partnerships with, and investments from large, complex corporations. Such corporations are not organized to rapidly find, test, integrate, and scale the types of early stage technologies that will be necessary to help them meet their bold climate commitments.

D3 brings these corporate partners directly into the program, assessing their early-stage technology needs and facilitating their interactions with leading edge innovators. When a startup is still too early-stage to close a commercial deal with a large corporate, D3’s investor partners — emboldened by that corporate’s interest — step in to fund the startup’s acceleration along the maturity curve.

D3’s corporate partners span the globe and represent sectors as diverse as technology, communications, finance, and energy. This diversity is necessary to address the diverse climate challenge and provides corporate partners with the additional benefit of learning from each other as they share ideas for increasing innovation internally and developing more ambitious corporate strategies.


With nearly 40 years as a recognized expert in climate and energy, Rocky Mountain Institute provides unparalleled market and policy insights to all members of the D3 ecosystem. Entrepreneurs, investors, and corporate partners working on buildings, cities, electricity, industry, finance, mobility, and more climate-related sectors have access to RMI’s broad knowledge base and staff of 250 experts. Combined with our strong global network across business, finance, NGOs, and policy, RMI can deliver precisely what is needed for a particular climate technology innovation to excel.

Join Us

D3 is now accepting applications from startups, investors, and corporate partners to join our inaugural cohort. Join us as we accelerate the rate of climate innovation together!

Featured image: Solar Canopy, by Cynthia Shahan/CleanTechnica 


Complete our 3-minute reader survey!

Appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica member, supporter, or ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.

Sign up for our free daily newsletter to never miss a story.

Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Latest CleanTech Talk Episode

Tags: , , , ,

About the Author

Since 1982, Rocky Mountain Institute has advanced market-based solutions that transform global energy use to create a clean, prosperous and secure future. An independent, nonprofit think-and-do tank, RMI engages with businesses, communities and institutions to accelerate and scale replicable solutions that drive the cost-effective shift from fossil fuels to efficiency and renewables. Please visit http://www.rmi.org for more information.

Back to Top ↑