Contact: Brittany Crocker,, 865-329-0553

Knoxville, Tenn., – The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council (TAEBC) and the UT Spark Innovation Center have partnered with the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) to provide Tennessee cleantech startups with additional sources of debt capital to support their growth.

LACI’s Cleantech Debt Fund is a first-of-its-kind green loan program to grow early-stage cleantech startups to accelerate equitable climate action.

The $6 million debt fund will provide first customer and working capital financing options between $25,000 to $250,000 at 9 percent interest to roughly 100 startups over the next five years. Unlike most traditional bank loans, the LACI Cleantech Debt Fund will not require founders’ personal collateral or credit scores in underwriting.

“Forward-thinking funds like the LACI Cleantech Debt Fund enable early-stage energy companies to gain traction and create economic development wins for our local communities,” said Cortney Piper, TAEBC Executive Director.

TAEBC has been working with LACI since 2020 as part of the Transportation Electrification Partnership. TAEBC and the Spark Innovation Center also joined LACI’s National Coalition of Clean Energy Incubators to rally congressional support for cleantech innovation and signed on to a $150 billion stimulus proposal to advocate for more jobs and investment in the electric vehicle industry.

“Funding cleantech startups in Tennessee will create high-quality jobs in the advanced energy sector and foster the growth of advanced energy technologies,” Piper said. “Advanced energy has a clear track record of driving economic growth in Tennessee. According to our 2021 Advanced Energy Economic Impact Report,  advanced energy contributed $45.8 billion to our state GDP and employed nearly 394,00 Tennesseeans.”

LACI CEO Matt Petersen said the LACI Cleantech Debt Fund will also help reduce barriers to capital for underserved founders from historically underrepresented communities, including female founders and founders of color.

“Too many founders cannot access traditional bank financing as they lack adequate personal assets, or the personal networks needed to secure early-stage investment,” Petersen said. “We created the LACI Cleantech Debt Fund as a new tool to give early-stage cleantech founders a timely, affordable alternative to expensive venture capital and slow-moving bank debt.”

LACI will host a virtual information session on May 31 for cleantech startups and founders to learn more about LACI Cleantech Debt Fund’s financing options and the application process. Register on LACI’s Zoom Portal. To be eligible for funding, Tennessee startups must be recommended by TAEBC and the Spark Innovation Center. Applications will open in June.

About TAEBC 
The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council (TAEBC) champions advanced energy as an economic development and job creation strategy. Advanced energy is technology neutral and includes electricity and transportation. Anything that makes energy cleaner, safer, more secure or more efficient is in the tent. No other entity in the state concentrates specifically on this robust sector. We educate public officials and business leaders about Tennessee’s advanced energy economy, establish strategic partnerships to connect assets with opportunities and inform policy that expands and strengthens the industry. TAEBC hosts the Energizing Tennessee podcast, which explores the latest news and insights about the advanced energy sector. For more information, visit

About Spark Innovation Center
The Spark Innovation Center is an initiative of the University of Tennessee Research Park and builds on the facilities and expertise at the University, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). Created in partnership with Evergreen Climate Innovations (previously Clean Energy Trust) and other partners, Spark supports early-stage cleantech businesses and drives commercialization of their technologies in Tennessee and throughout the Midwest and the Southeast. Spark offers promising energy technology companies access to top-quality lab space, expert mentoring, and coordinating support services from nine partner organizations in the region. For more information, visit