Besides taking a product to market, one of the hardest parts of starting a clean tech company might be the amount of R&D that goes into developing a world-class product. That takes a lot of time and money that nascent clean tech companies might not have. To help solve this issue the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) is now applications for a pilot voucher program to give small clean tech firms access to national laboratories. The goal of this voucher program is to streamline and ease access to national laboratories for small businesses. Not only does this program set aside funds for small businesses to use but it also consolidates the entire process at a single access point for all participating labs (www.sbv.org).
How does This Work?
After applying, companies will be selected by a combination of a merit review, capability match, and then DOE approval process. Within this, selection will be determined by a combination of: Technical Merit and Lab Alignment, Business and Market Impact, and Qualifications and Experience. These categories are broken down in detail here. If selected the company will then negotiate with the National Laboratory that will be fulfilling the voucher on the scope of the project.
Who can Apply?
For-profit businesses with fewer than 500 full-time employees. The full criteria can be found here.
How Much Funding Is there?
The Department of Energy has put aside $20 million for the pilot program. The vouchers themselves will be worth between $50,000 and $300,000. Exactly how much funding is determined by the technology area the company is working in. For example $4.4 million has been set aside for Advanced Manufacturing and $3 million for Fuel Cell technologies. Companies do have to provide a 20 percent cost share to receive the voucher.
The DOE SBV pilot program gives small businesses in these clean tech areas (Advanced Manufacturing, Bioenergy, Buildings, Fuel Cells, Geothermal, Solar, Vehicles, Water, Wind) a great opportunity to either test, grow, or scale their technologies.
All information was compiled from the Small Business Vouchers Pilot website, for more details please consult the website.