PROPEL: Seeking Innovators in Industrial IoT

Help build a smarter, interconnected, resource-aware world

Together, Fraunhofer TechBridge (a program of the Fraunhofer CSE) and Greentown Labs recently launched PROPEL, a six-month startup acceleration program in Boston focused on prototype and product development. With the vision of a smarter, interconnected, resource-efficient world, the program is now seeking participants working on innovations in self-powered distributed sensing and intervention.

PROPEL - a call for innovation
PROPEL calls for innovation in self-powered Wireless Sensor-Actuator Networks

The concept of a future connected world with continuous sensing and monitoring was proposed in the 1990s by Kris Pister as “smart dust”–a system of tiny wireless machines that could sense the environment, process data, and communicate in real-time. While we have made important advancements in sensing and actuation networks since then, current networks still fall significantly short of what is possible. At full potential, these networks could provide urgently needed solutions for several large-scale energy issues, including energy and resource efficiency in industrial processes, the built environment, and transportation. However, innovation in this space is currently hampered by several barriers.

Hardware entrepreneurs working on game-changing, early-stage technologies often face major challenges securing the necessary tools, space, expertise, and industry feedback required to iterate quickly and develop products that can drive sales.

The PROPEL program directly addresses these problems. Selected companies will receive incubation resources, technical guidance on prototype development, and feedback from a broad network of investors, strategic partners, and innovators from the surrounding ecosystem in one structured acceleration program. Benefitting from the collective entrepreneurship and product development experience of Fraunhofer TechBridge and Greentown Labs, the selected cohort of startups will be able to integrate their systems, advance their companies, and maximize their impact.


The broad focus areas of PROPEL are wireless processes, sensing and actuation, energy harvesting and micro-storage, controls, system architecture, and business model innovation. The program is seeking innovations that push the boundaries of the Industrial Internet of Things, and open up new possibilities for building and using self-powered nodes, networks, and intervention capabilities.

A total of five companies will be selected to join PROPEL, where they will receive incubation and prototyping space and membership at Greentown Labs, industry-focused technical guidance through Fraunhofer TechBridge, exposure to industry and strategic partner and investor group mentors, and up to $10,000 in non-dilutive funds. The program will culminate in a demonstration showcase, where startups will pitch their refined prototypes and business plans to potential strategic partners and investors from the Boston energy ecosystem.

Interested applicants can learn more and apply by May 18th at

About Fraunhofer TechBridge & Fraunhofer CSE

Launched at Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems CSE in 2010, the Fraunhofer TechBridge program identifies and de-risks promising technologies out or the startup community to solve industry challenges.

Fraunhofer CSE is a non-profit applied R&D organization developing clean energy technologies for the benefit of society. Fraunhofer CSE engages in collaborative research with private companies, government entities, and academic institutions, and works with sustainable energy startups to help develop their technologies, bridge the gap from laboratory to production.

About Greentown Labs

Greentown Labs is a community of bold, passionate entrepreneurs creating game-changing energy technologies that transform the way we live, work, and play. Located in Somerville, MA, Greentown Labs is the largest cleantech incubator in the Northeast, operating a 33,000sq. ft. facility that enables entrepreneurs to solve today’s biggest energy and environmental problems. Its mission is to enable a vibrant community of entrepreneurs to realize their visions by providing access to the space, resources, and funding needed to thrive.