Ascend Energy & Mobility Accelerator

Powered by VentureWell, TechTown Detroit, and DOE’s EPIC Prize

Energy & Mobility Startups in Michigan: Prepare for Investment with the Ascend Energy & Mobility Accelerator, powered by VentureWell, TechTown Detroit, and DOE’s EPIC Prize

This six-week intensive program prepares startups for the partnerships and investment necessary to launch their venture. We are partnering with entrepreneurship hub TechTown Detroit to deliver this programming, which aims to help entrepreneurs bridge the gap between customer discovery and commercial launch. We’ve refined our process to help deep-tech companies over the last 27 years and bring this focused opportunity with support of the Energy Program for Innovation Clusters (EPIC) Prize from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Technology Transitions (OTT).

Applications open in summer 2024. Join the waitlist to receive updates when they become available.

2023 Cohort of the Ascend Energy & Mobility Accelerator, powered by VentureWell, TechTown Detroit, and DOE’s EPIC Prize; photos of energy and mobility tech

Read about our 2023 Ascend Energy & Mobility Accelerator cohort!

Why Apply?

  1. Spend one-on-one time with mentors: Learn from high-caliber mentors throughout the program who have experience partnering with energy & mobility startups like yours.
  2. De-risk your startup: With input from customers and other stakeholders, refine the problem you are solving, validate your value proposition, and define your beachhead market.
  3. Validate your financial model: Refine the numbers behind your business model assumptions to ensure a solid financial model ahead of fundraising.
  4. Collaborate and network: Connect with fellow founders and leverage the VentureWell mentor and investor network after the program.

Does Your Startup Qualify?

VentureWell will select 10 energy & mobility startups launching high-impact solutions located in Michigan. Startups must be committed and competitive!

Applicants should have:

  • An innovation with a clear, positive impact that solves a real problem felt by customers, and has a compelling value proposition.
  • Sector-specific solutions for energy & mobility companies only.
  • A Michigan-based key founder or team lead.
  • Exposure to lean startup methodology training.
  • A company that is already legally incorporated or intending to incorporate in the near future.
  • Technology Readiness Level 3 (proof of concept) or beyond, potential for intellectual property creation.
  • Pre-seed status and have not yet raised institutional equity financing.

Program Mentors


Erika BlockErika Block headshot, Lead Instructor

Investor, Advisor, and Entrepreneur, Sticky Lab

Lecturer, University of Michigan College of Engineering’s Center for Entrepreneurship


Kevin Blaser, Mentor-in-ResidenceKevin Blaser headshot

Venture Capitalist

Energy Systems Expert


Marcia Dawood headshotMarcia Dawood, Mentor-in-Residence

Angel Investor, Angel Capital Association and Mindshift Capital



Ellington Ellis headshotEllington Ellis, Mentor-in-Residence

Angel Investor

Founder, Ellington Energy


Jade GarrettJade Garrett headshot, Mentor-in-Residence

Founder, Positive Deviancy

Hard Tech and Energy Expert


Anne Maghas headshotAnne Maghas, Mentor-in-Residence

Angel Investor and Entrepreneur, Dash Group



Domineca NealDomineca Neal headshot, Mentor-in-Residence

Angel Investor, Commune Angels



DeWayne WilliamsDeWayne R. Williams headshot, Mentor-in-Residence

Angel Investor, Commune Angels

Connectivity Expert in Mobility


Regional Advisory Committee

Thank you to the following individuals who have helped advise and support the design and development of this program.

Tu Le headshotTu Le

Managing Director, Sino Auto Insights



Alisyn Malek headshotAlisyn Malek

Mentor-in-Residence, University of Michigan Tech Transfer Office

Founder, Middle Third


Clay Phillips headshotClay Phillips

Mobility Technology Lead, Michigan Small Business Development Center



Sherelle Streeter headshotSherelle Streeter

Senior Mobility Strategist, Office of Mobility Strategy, City of Detroit



About EPIC

The Energy Program for Innovation Clusters (EPIC) Prize recognizes the nation’s most innovative incubators. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Technology Transitions (OTT), the EPIC Prize awards cash prizes to regional incubator teams that submit the most creative and impactful plans, then implement those plans to develop strong clusters, connections, and support for energy startups and entrepreneurs. Learn more.

This effort is funded by the Department of Energy’s EPIC (Energy Program Innovation Cluster) competition and supported by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and TechTown Detroit.

Ascend Energy & Mobility Accelerator sponsor logos: VentureWell, TechTown Detroit, DOE EPIC

Questions? Email Sarah Wharmby.

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. Read More