March 31, 2011 Leave a comment
Borrowing an idea from reality television, the Department of Energy is injecting a bit of excitement into the world of energy innovation with its “America’s Next Top Energy Innovator” contest that kicks off on May 2.
Secretary Chu unveiled the competition this week as a challenge to entrepreneurs to “move technologies invented in our National Laboratories out of the lab and into the marketplace.” Only about 10 percent of the 15,000 patents and patent applications from the 17 national labs have been utilized commercially, and the contest supports expanded technology transfer from outstanding inventions to successful business activity. Winners will receive a discounted rate for licensing National Laboratories patents and a spot at the 2012 ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit.
Although the contest won’t feature runway challenges or photo shoots,the contestants will have to create a business plan by the December 15th deadline. Unlike its televised counterpart however, there are no losers in this competition, and the program is more of an effort to maximize innovation than a zero-sum contest. To help participants along, DOE has provided examples of potential technologies that could be licensed- including an energy conversion system and semi-conductor materials.
President Obama expanded on the DOE’s announcement in a speech at Georgetown University Wednesday, offering the full picture of the administration’s push for a more “diverse energy portfolio” in the coming years. Driven by a desire to see one million electric cars on the road by 2015 and have 80 percent of the nation’s electricity come from clean energy sources by 2035, the Obama plan combines short-term plans to diversify supply with far-reaching efforts to establish the U.S. energy market as the leader in clean energy research and development. Read more of this post