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Innovative vs. Commercial: What’s the Difference?

Innovative Solicitations

An “innovative” project is one that employs “new” or “significantly improved” technology.

  • Technology is considered “new” if it has been recently developed, discovered, or learned.
  • Technology is “significantly improved” if it involves or constitutes one or more meaningful and important improvements in productivity or value, in comparison to “commercial” technologies in use in the United States.
  • “Commercial” technologies are those technologies that have been used, in the same general application as the proposed project, in three or more commercial projects in the United States for five or more years.

Thus, a project may qualify as “innovative” under the Loan Programs even if the technology it employs was developed some time ago, and even if it is used in the same commercial application outside the United States, as long as that technology is not currently in general commercial use in the United States and involves or constitutes a significant improvement over technologies that are currently in use in this country.

Commercial Solicitations (i.e., FIPP and Manufacturing)

Only “commercial” technologies are eligible under the FIPP and Manufacturing Solicitations, but the definition of a “commercial” technology, for purposes of these solicitations, is different than it is for the Innovative Solicitation (described above).

Under the FIPP and the Manufacturing Solicitations, a “commercial” technology is a technology that is being used, at the time a Term Sheet is issued, in the same or substantially similar general application as the proposed project, in at least three commercial projects anywhere in the world that have each been in operation for at least two years.