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Secretary Chu Announces Second Round of “America’s Next Top Energy Innovator” on One Year Anniversary of the White House Startup America Initiative

January 31, 2012 - 11:36am

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, on the one year anniversary of the Obama Administration’s Startup America Initiative, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced that the Department of Energy (DOE) is kicking off a second year of “America’s Next Top Energy Innovator,” a program that allows startup companies to license groundbreaking technologies developed by DOE’s 17 national laboratories for $1,000 and build successful businesses. As part of this effort, the Department 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. 

The White House Startup America Initiative is a multiagency effort across the Obama Administration to promote high-growth entrepreneurship by expanding access to capital, cutting red tape, and accelerating innovation through agency action.  Additional information on the program’s one year anniversary and new steps the Obama Administration is taking to support job-creating small businesses is available HERE.

“America's future competitiveness depends on our ability to innovate and advance American products and businesses,” said Energy Secretary Chu. “Through America’s Next Top Energy Innovator, we are allowing brilliant ideas to fully develop and giving startup companies the opportunity to bring inventions from our national laboratories to the market.”

Under the previous round of America’s Next Top Energy Innovator, thirty-six companies in total signed option agreements with the national laboratories.  An online contest for the top picks is currently underway, where Americans can vote online for the most innovative and promising technologies supported by the program by visiting www.energy.gov/topinnovator. The top startup companies– based on the public vote and an expert review – will be invited to be featured at the premier annual gathering of clean energy investors and innovators around the country, the ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit at the end of February.

Under the next round of the “America’s Next Top Energy Innovator” program:

1.      Wednesday, February 1, 2012, the Department will kick off the second round of the competition.  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 make their submission to the laboratory.

2.      Any of the 15,000 unlicensed patents and patent applications held by the national laboratories will be available for licensing by startup companies.

3.      From February 1 to December 10, the Department will reduce the total upfront cost of licensing DOE patents in a specific technology to a $1,000 upfront fee for portfolios of up to three patents from a single laboratory. This represents a savings of $10,000 to $50,000 on average in upfront fees.

4.      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. These fees help support the Department's continuing research activities to develop new technologies.

5.      The Department has simplified the option and licensing process and has established a standard set of terms for start-ups, who generally lack the resources, time or expertise to negotiate individual licensing agreements.

6.      In early 2013, the Department will give Americans the chance to vote online for the most innovative and promising technologies supported by the program.

Learn more about DOE’s America’s Next Top Energy Innovator program HERE. Learn more about the Obama Administration’s Startup America initiative HERE.

News Media Contact: (202) 586-4940

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