Energy Efficiency

Small Business Voucher Pilot for Emerging Cleantech

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), in partnership with Sandia National Laboratories/California (SNL/CA) and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), has been awarded $4.15 million by the Department of Energy (DOE) to jointly launch a new small business voucher pilot. The Molecular Foundry is a U.S. Department of Energy nanoscience center hosted at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and could be used for collaborative research through the Small Business Voucher Pilot.

"Our pilot, which we've named LabSTAR, unites three national labs-Berkeley, Sandia, and Livermore-to serve as a Bay Area ecosystem for providing access to the unique assets of the national lab system, such as basic science, prototyping, analysis, supercomputers, accelerators, and more," said Alecia Ward, LabSTAR program lead and also head of program and business development for Berkeley Lab's Energy Technologies Area.

The funding is part of DOE's $20 million investment in small business assistance, which is one component of its National Lab Impact Initiative. This initiative seeks to significantly increase the industrial impact of DOE national labs on the U.S. clean energy sector. LabSTAR, with Berkeley Lab serving as the lead, was awarded the pilot for applications in four sectors: battery technologies, fuel cell technologies, geothermal technologies, and advanced manufacturing, which could cover any technology.

"LabSTAR will create opportunities for the national labs to share their unique assets with small businesses, who can leverage our expertise in geothermal technologies, transportation energy, materials science and other fields to create innovative clean energy solutions," said Carrie Burchard, business development manager at SNL/CA.

Small businesses, defined as a company with fewer than 500 employees, will be able to apply for up to $300,000 in vouchers for work at one of the three national labs. A successful application will require a 20 percent cost share. "They could apply to do research with a particular scientist or use a certain facility, such as the High Performance Computing Innovation Center at Livermore, Sandia's Combustion Research Facility, or the Molecular Foundry at Berkeley Lab for nanoscale research," said Ward. "We expect dozens of small businesses will be able to benefit from this program in its first two years."

"LabSTAR pulls together a consortium of national labs located in the Bay Area that marry cutting-edge science and technology with a regional ecosystem that promotes small business success," said Rich Rankin, director of LLNL's Industrial Partnerships Office. "The Lab is excited about the potential this collaboration offers to connect us to the small business community."

LabSTAR also includes an unprecedented level of support from a diverse range of state, local, and regional partners, as well as startup incubators like Cleantech Open and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and business organizations like the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

"We especially have strong support from incubators in California, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Georgia, Texas, and Hawaii," Ward said. "The purpose of these partnerships is to reach as many small and emerging technology businesses as possible and to have as strong an applicant pool as possible."

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