On March 10, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy announced $6.7 million in first round funding to 33 clean-tech focused small businesses. Through the Small Business Vouchers (SBV) pilot, small businesses will have access to the talent and expertise of the National Labs, to help break through technological challenges and accelerate the pace of commercialization for clean technologies. Funded projects in Round 1 range the gamut of clean technologies, from wind and solar to bioenergy, geothermal, vehicles, and other areas.

In the bioenergy space, the effort is being overseen by The Pacific Northwest National Lab, and the goal is to help small businesses develop feasible businesses for biofuels, bioproducts and biopower.  The four main areas of focus for bioenergy are algal feedstocks R&D, analysis and sustainability, conversion R&D, and terrestrial feedstocks logistics R&D.  The suite of potential feedstocks and end-products are diverse and include cyanobacteria, algae, dedicated energy crops, municipal solid waste, biogas, agricultural residues, and forest resources.

In the first round of funding, three bioenergy and biorenewables companies received vouchers to work with a variety of labs.  Awardee GlucanBio, in St. Louis MO, is working to convert lignin biomass to ultra-lightweight, carbon-based materials. Two other awardees, Lygos and Visolis, are working to commercialize various biobased chemicals that could one day replace petrochemicals used in numerous applications.

The SBV pilot is part of the DOE’s National Lab Impact Initiative, which aims to increase the role that the National Labs play in development and commercialization of clean technology. Beyond the SBV vouchers pilot, the Impact Initiative places researchers in industry and vice versa.  DOE is currently accepting applications for Round 2 of funding, which will provide $13 million to over 100 business vouchers. Voucher amounts will be in the range of $50,000 to $300,000.



For more information see: 

Small Business Vouchers Pilot, U.S. DOE 

National Laboratory Impact Initiative, U.S. DOE