Behind the Scenes in Charlotte in 2013

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Companies such as Duke Energy Corp. (NYSE:DUK), Siemens Energy and Areva Inc. have put Charlotte on the energy industry’s map. But the dearth of energy startups is an obvious hole in its résumé as a national energy hub.

The energy startup accelerator CLT Joules wants to help fill the void, and Executive Director Lori Collins is the point person in that effort.

Collins was part of the original executive team for LendingTree.com, the mortgage exchange that became Tree.com Inc. (NASDAQ:TREE). She was also a managing director at Abundant Power Group.

Now she will be working to find promising startups — in the Carolinas and nationally — and working to bring them to Charlotte.

She is focusing on hardware companies, where she thinks there is the greatest opportunity for innovation. They need more capital and can take more time to develop than software companies. But Collins hopes big energy companies already on the ground in Charlotte will see the value. That is how Charlotte can attract startups, she says. “We can offer access to the big energy companies. That’s a huge draw for Charlotte.”

The accelerator kicked off its operations in October with funding from Duke and the law firm Moore & Van Allen.