Although the cleantech innovation ecosystem—research institutions, entrepreneurs, financiers, and support institutions—is diverse and productive, converting cleantech discoveries and research breakthroughs into commercially viable, transformative energy systems has proven difficult. With incumbent energy systems economically efficient and deeply entrenched, cleantech innovation faces a fundamental dilemma—the scale economies necessary to compete require a large customer base that doesn’t yet exist. How is our clean energy innovation ecosystem equipped to be transformative? What needs to be strengthened? Is it profitable to focus on individual elements, or should we consider the system holistically, and reframe our expectations?