DOE invests $54m into to small businesses

The US Department of Energy recently announced plans to provide $54m dollars for small businesses, in support of the Biden-Harris Administration commitment.  

Small businesses that are eligible  

Small businesses are considered the backbone of communities and neighbourhoods, as they make up 9% of all firms in the US and create two out of every three new jobs in the private sector. This funding prospect is open to small businesses that seek initial grants from the Department Of Energy (DOE) to establish and prove their original concepts and proposed innovations. If they are successful, they will be eligible to compete for future funding to develop working prototypes of their discoveries.  

Those who will be receiving funding from this initiative are small businesses who are pursuing research and development into the topics of climate and energy, as well as those involved in the development of advanced scientific instrumentation. The areas of interest also include renewable energy, carbon management, fusion and nuclear energy, advanced grid technologies, and cybersecurity.  

This investment into small businesses that are investigating climate and energy, aligns with the environmental plans recently released by Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as part of the ‘Biden-Harris Administration’. This includes the intention to introduce electric vehicle charging points throughout the US, with the intention to encourage more people to use electric vehicles. Having so many charging ports available nationally will hopefully minimise the fear of batteries depleting and leaving people stranded. Harris insists that “the future is electric,” and having charging ports as available as gas stations will essentially help the world make the transition from gas to electric. 

More on the initiative 

The funding will be administered by the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR), both of which are departments in the DOE. Both sectors were established to encourage participation of diverse communities in technological innovation, and to increase technology transfer between research institutions and small businesses. This funding opportunity announcement (FOA) is also intended to create partnerships with disadvantaged communities to ensure an equitable energy future. 

“The SBIR program plays an important role in fuelling US innovation to answer the pressing challenges we face as a society,” said Geraldine Richmond, the Under Secretary for Science and Energy. “Small businesses are critical players in our innovation ecosystem, and we must enable their contributions towards tackling the climate crisis, deploying next generation clean energy technologies, and leading the research breakthroughs at the core of America’s scientific leadership.” 

Will this FOA be successful? 

The SBIR and STTR programs will fund a diverse portfolio of start-up and established small businesses across technology areas and markets. The intention is to stimulate technological breakthroughs, to meet Federal research and development needs, and to increase commercialisation to transition research and development into impact.  

It is expected that these investments will generate success as previous small businesses that have received funding from the SBIR and STTR have developed effective technologies. These include photonic materials for solid state lighting, advanced membranes for biofuel production, portable gamma ray spectrometers for nuclear industry, and software infrastructure to support community solar.  

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