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How the Recovery Act is Affecting Small Business Innovation

August 2, 2010 - 5:20pm

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We invest in our country’s small businesses because small businesses invest back in our economy. With small businesses creating nearly two out of every three net new jobs, you probably have a friend, neighbor or family member who makes their livelihood by working for a small business. These employees enter an environment that supports innovation and ingenuity, as small businesses invest in research and new programs to spur economic growth and reduce our country’s energy usage.

Last week, I wrote about our Phase III awards, $30 million in funding available to be awarded to help qualified small businesses bring their ideas to the marketplace. Today, we are showcasing the results of our Phase II awards -- over 200 awards totaling $188 million have been awarded to qualified small businesses in 34 states. These awards will be used to develop clean energy technologies that have the potential to be commercialized, thus continuing to allow the small businesses to create new jobs in their communities. These awards will provide funding at a key stage in the technology development cycle, helping innovators develop prototype technologies that can then be manufactured, creating clean energy jobs and economic opportunity.

Awards include an investment in a Colorado small business working towards creating a smarter “smart grid,” a California small business making new strides in solar power usage, and a small business in a small town in Massachusetts, developing a COmonitor that can help companies change the way they use carbon.

The 201 small businesses selected today, which include $73 million in Recovery Act investments, are now among many past SBIR and STTR recipients who have successfully scaled their innovations to market. For example, past SBIR recipient A123 Systems has grown into a leading manufacturer of cutting-edge lithium-ion batteries and is now expanding its manufacturing base in Michigan, and another past SBIR winner, Amonix, is growing its concentrating PV manufacturing capacity in Nevada, which is expected to employ hundreds of workers. The goal of DOE’s SBIR program is to help innovative small businesses succeed. In keeping with the goals of the Recovery Act, the Department’s SBIR efforts have incorporated a fast-track process for applications, increased emphasis on job creation and commercialization potential in the review and selection process, and provided business incubator funding.

The $188 million will have a long-lasting impact on the work of these qualified innovative small businesses. The 201 award selections will support the development of prototype and pilot operations for new technologies that have already passed the Phase I proof of concept stage. These Phase II awards cover 76 technology areas – including advanced renewable energy sources, cleaner fossil power, energy-efficient buildings, high performance computing and industrial energy use.

Additional information on the SBIR program and today's funding announcement is available at SBIR/STTR Programs Office. For more information about the companies receiving Phase II awards visit Phase II funding.

Kristina M. Johnson is the Under Secretary for Energy

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