Washington, DC - Today, while visiting the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, Vice President Biden announced that a Colorado-based start-up company has signed the first option agreement under the Department of Energy's new "America's Next Top Energy Innovator" challenge. Based in Boulder, Colorado, US e-Chromic LLC will use electrochromic technology developed by the Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to create a new thin film window material that reflects sunlight on demand, making windows more energy efficient while reducing cooling costs for consumers.
"Now, more than ever, America's future competitiveness depends on our ability to innovate and our capacity to live up to our rich history of technological advancement," said Vice President Biden. "This kind of public-private partnership fosters extraordinary innovation, allows brilliant ideas to develop, and gives businesses the tools they need to bring technology to the market."
Of the agreement, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said, "This is a great example of what can happen when we unleash the American innovation machine and allow entrepreneurs to turn a great idea into a business opportunity. By making it easier, faster and cheaper for start-ups to license groundbreaking technologies we can move innovative ideas to the marketplace - creating jobs and growing our economy."
Following President Obama's call in the State of the Union for new investments in American innovation, the Department of Energy announced in late March the "America's Next Top Energy Innovator" challenge as part of the Administration's Startup America Initiative to celebrate, inspire, and accelerate high-growth entrepreneurship throughout the nation. These initiatives are part of the President's plan to help the United States win the future by out-innovating, out-educating, and out-building our global competition.
The agreement announced today demonstrates how American innovation is growing the economy and keeping America competitive in the 21st century. The electrochromic technology used by US e-Chromic LLC uses an electric field to change the tint of a window, allowing users to control the transparency based on the time of day, temperature, or exposure to sunlight. Today, the current supply of electrochromic windows turn darker in color when activated, consequently absorbing heat. In contrast, the technology being developed by US e-Chromic LLC reflects sunlight, keeping buildings cooler. They can be retrofitted to existing windows, potentially reducing cooling costs by 25 - 30 percent for commercial buildings during air conditioning months.
Beginning May 2nd, entrepreneurs interested in some of the 15,000 patents and patent applications held by the 17 National Laboratories can now obtain a streamlined option agreement through the Department of Energy's "America's Next Top Energy Innovator" challenge. The restructured option agreement will give entrepreneurs the opportunity to option groundbreaking technologies developed by the National Laboratories for a $1,000 upfront fee. The portfolio of patents available under this challenge - including biomass, vehicle technology and grid energy storage - can help achieve the Administration's goal of reducing our oil imports by one-third by 2025. To date, more than 400 companies and entrepreneurs have inquired about the available technologies.
Entrepreneurs interested in participating in the challenge can view the available technologies and the restructured patent agreement on the Department of Energy's Energy Innovation Portal website.
New Reporting Role
Secretary Chu also announced today that Dr. Karina Edmonds will have a new reporting role within DOE. Dr. Edmonds, who is responsible for working with the Department's National Laboratories and Facilities to accelerate the pace of technology transfer - which focuses on moving our discoveries from the laboratory to the marketplace - will report directly to Secretary Chu. Dr. Edmonds had a very influential role in executing the restructured option agreement under the Top Energy Innovator challenge.