DOE Launches New Round of America's Top Energy Innovator

February 1, 2012

DOE announced the February 1 launch of the second year for its "America's Next Top Energy Innovator," a program that allows startup companies to license groundbreaking technologies developed by DOE's national laboratories. Under the initiative, an entrepreneur can pay $1,000 for a technology and use it to build a business. As part of the project, DOE reduces both the cost and paperwork requirements for startup companies to obtain an option agreement to license some of the 15,000 patents and patent applications held by the national laboratories. During the first round, 36 companies signed option agreements with the national laboratories.

In the new round, entrepreneurs and start-ups must identify the technology of interest and submit a business plan to be considered for the program. Participants will have until December 10, 2012 to submit their plans to a laboratory. From February 1 to December 10, the department will reduce the total upfront cost of licensing DOE patents in a specific technology for portfolios of up to three patents from a single laboratory. This represents an average savings of $10,000 to $50,000 in upfront fees. Other license terms, such as equity and royalties, will be negotiated on a case-by-case basis and will typically be due once the company grows and achieves commercial sales. See the DOE press release.