Who will be America’s Next Top Energy Innovator?

The Dept. of Energy will reduce the cost of licensing federal laboratory patents to boost startup energy companies in the latest national energy challenge.


The U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE) has announced a new national program, America's Next Top Energy Innovator challenge, which is intended to boost innovation in the field of clean energy by incentivizing startup energy companies.

The program was launched at a forum held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which saw an array of White House officials discussing the administration's Startup America initiative, launched in January, which is intended to help new firms and small businesses succeed. America's Next Top Energy Innovator is also a part of that initiative.

The new program drastically reduces the cost of licensing any of the roughly 15,000 patents held by the federal government's 17 National Laboratories, where basic scientific research is done. Under the challenge, energy entrepreneurs will be able to license up to three National Laboratories patents for just $1,000 each, which could result in savings of anything between $10,000 and $50,000 in upfront licensing fees. The program will also simplify the licensing process and establish a standard set of terms for startups, who generally lack the resources, time or expertise to negotiate individual licensing.

Competing entrepreneurs must identify the technology of interest and submit a business plan in a streamlined template that the DOE will release online. The challenge will start May 2 and have a deadline of Dec. 15.

Technologies available range from software that helps reduce energy use in buildings to ways of converting solar power into thermal energy on demand.

In addition to these steps, the DOE is making it easier for companies to use the facilities at National Laboratories to conduct collaborative research and development activities by lowering the advance payment requirement from 90 to 60 days.  This change will benefit all companies– not just startups–but could be valuable for those participating in the America's Next Top Energy Innovator challenge.

For more information, click here.

-Edited by Bettina Chang, Consulting-Specifying Engineer, www.csemag.com

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