The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced 235 small businesses, across 42 states, will receive $54 million in critical seed funding for 266 projects that are developing and deploying proof-of-concept prototypes for a wide range of technological solutions needed to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. This diverse class of awardees are designing novel solutions to our greatest energy needs around advanced grid technologies, solar and hydrogen power, carbon capture and storage, artificial intelligence, electric vehicle batteries and more.
“Small businesses and entrepreneurs are the backbone of the American economy, the heart of our communities, and a well of ingenuity, driving America’s leadership in energy efficiency, sustainable transportation and renewable power, said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “With this round of federal funding, we’re going one step further to tap this homegrown resource to help bring the next generation of clean energy innovation to market while creating good-paying jobs across the private sector.”
DOE’s SBIR/STTR programs seek to foster and encourage participation in innovation and entrepreneurship by women and socially or economically disadvantaged persons, and to increase the private-sector commercialization of innovations derived from federal R&D funding. SBIR/STRR programs support DOE’s larger effort to ensure underserved and overburdened communities and advance the Biden-Harris administration’s Justice40 Initiative – a commitment to deliver 40% of the overall benefits of clean energy technology investments to this demographic.
The awards are administered through DOE’s Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) programs and include:
- 29 women-owned businesses
- 31 business owners who self-identified as socially disadvantaged or low income
- 37 states identified as HUBZones, a Small Business Administration program that fuels small business growth in historically underutilized business zones
Selected projects include:
- Workforce development and experiential bioenergy learning tools: Pathways United in St. Louis, MO is developing an experiential learning tool to build workforce capacity in underrepresented populations in the field of bioenergy. (Award amount $199,998.00)
- Grid-smart building controls: Small and mid-sized commercial building owners often do not have the resources needed to meet ambitious energy efficiency goals. Community Energy Labs LLC, in Portland, OR is developing a scalable, autonomous clean building control platform that allows small to mid-sized commercial building owners to simply and affordably meet their goals. Award amount: $206,230.00)
- Solving laser distortions: Voss Scientific, LLC, in Albuquerque, NM is setting out to make high average-power laser amplifiers smaller, cheaper and more simplified by adding an optical window treated with a metasurface to solve thermal stress. (Award amount: $206,500.00)
"Small businesses are the lifeblood of Oregon's economy, supporting jobs in our communities and tackling the big challenges faced by our nation. As the climate emergency persists, I'm happy to see the Department of Energy investing in small businesses that will help kick America's carbon habit and move us toward a clean energy future," said U.S. Senator Ron Wyden.
“As the threat of climate change?grows, we must do what we can to?encourage innovation to confront this serious global challenge. Maine entrepreneurs are at the forefront of this effort – including Ocean Renewable Power Company in Portland, which has repeatedly demonstrated itself as an adaptable, innovative leader in the clean energy space. This award from the Department of Energy will allow ORPC to deploy and expand subsea networks, unlocking the power of rivers and oceans to make clean, affordable, and reliable energy accessible to a wider group of consumers. As climate change is one of the most pressing challenges of our time, and we are proud of startups like ORPC that are working to advance innovative clean energy technologies,” said U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King.
“Our small businesses are hubs of scientific and technological progress and innovation that bring us closer to finding new breakthroughs to combat climate change and protect our environment, while also creating jobs. I’m thrilled that the Department of Energy will be investing federal dollars into Granite State and American small businesses like Creare and Intergrid that are pursuing important clean energy research and development projects that have the potential to create a greener, more sustainable future for our planet. Securing federal investments in programs that power the cutting-edge work our small businesses do has long been a top priority of mine, and I’ll continue to fight for small businesses and entrepreneurs through my work on the Senate Appropriations and Small Business Committees,” said U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen.
“Whether it’s competing with foreign producers or relying less on imports, it’s vital we strengthen the domestic production of rare earth elements used across our economy. Today’s announcement from the Department of Energy will help advance the efficient production and utilization of rare earth elements and critical minerals derived from North Dakota’s abundant lignite coal resources,” said U.S. Senator John Hoeven.
“Small businesses are stepping up to deliver clean energy solutions and address the climate crisis. It’s good news the Department of Energy is awarding federal dollars to Connecticut companies to help them move their innovative work forward,” said U.S. Senator Chris Murphy.
“With our world-class research universities, national labs, and high-tech and advanced manufacturing industries, New Mexico is ideally positioned to lead the charge on developing clean energy and climate solutions. That’s why I’m proud to support this funding from DOE so that New Mexico businesses can generate new careers and utilize their unique skillsets to create a cleaner, brighter future for all New Mexicans, said U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich.
“I am grateful to the Energy Department for making yet another investment in support of North Dakota research and development potential,” said Senator Cramer. “The funds awarded today, which are part of a nationwide investment in small business energy projects, will help Grand Forks’ Microbeam Technologies learn how to better utilize coal to support our need for critical mineral resources,” said U.S. Senator Kevin Cramer.
“Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy and the bedrock of our communities. With this funding, Utah’s small businesses will help pave the way in developing the technology necessary for our country to adequately address the array of energy challenges we face,” said U.S. Senator Mitt Romney.
“Small businesses play an important role in deploying clean energy solutions across America. This funding will empower small business owners in New Mexico and across the country to grow their businesses while helping to protect our environment for future generations. I’m pleased to see New Mexico businesses among today’s award recipients, and I applaud the Department of Energy for its continued investment in the backbone of our economy,” said U.S. Senator Ben Ray Luján.
Earlier this year, DOE announced an additional 102 small business that received over $100 million in funding to pursue, among other things advanced manufacturing of wind turbines and batteries, new instruments for atmospheric measurement, and particle accelerator technologies that can power next-generation scientific discoveries.
As part of today's announcement DOE released an Inclusive Innovation Request for Information (RFI) to understand the current barriers and actions needed to make its funding opportunities and innovation and entrepreneurship activities more inclusive, just, and equitable, in line with the Administration’s climate and Justice40 goals. This RFI is intended to inform DOE on enabling an inclusive and just entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem for climate and energy technology research.