The Incubator program provides early-stage assistance to help startup companies cross technological barriers to commercialization while encouraging private sector investment. Since the program was launched in 2007, $138 million in government funds has leveraged more than $3 billion in venture capital and private equity investment, demonstrating a ratio of nearly $22 in subsequent private sector support for every $1 of federal support.
A total of 97 startup companies have received 121 awards to participate in the SunShot Incubator program since it began in 2007. These DOE solar projects are accelerating technological innovation for:
- Photovoltaic (PV) technologies
- Concentrating solar power (CSP) technologies
- Power electronics
- Balance-of-system (BOS) hardware
- Balance-of-system non-hardware (Soft Costs).
On November 16, 2015, the Incubator program was combined with other funding programs into the SunShot Technology to Market funding program with the goal of bringing disruptive innovation to the solar industry in the near term that will take root in the U.S.
The SunShot Incubator program aims to shorten the time between laboratory-scale proof of concept and prototype development and accelerate the process for companies to transition pre-commercial prototypes through the pilot stage into full-scale manufacture. Most projects are cooperative agreements that last from 12 to 18 months with payment made upon completion and verification of aggressive project deliverables.
The SunShot Incubator program uses a five-tiered approach to accomplish its objectives.
For Hardware Development
- Tier 0 is to accelerate the transition from a proof-of-concept of all critical components to an early stage functional prototype;
- Tier 1 is to accelerate the transition of early stage functional prototype to manufacturing and commercially relevant prototype made in the lab; and
- Tier 2 is to develop the manufacturing processes and equipment to move from fully developed lab prototype to pilot-scale production.
For Non Hardware Development
- Tier 1S is to accelerate the transition of proof-of-concept or business plan to alpha capability and early customer trials; and
- Tier 2S is to transition alpha capability through beta launch and full commercialization.
The Incubator program was originally created to support innovative solar startups working to develop and launch transformative PV technologies. Over the past several years, the program has evolved to take an all-inclusive approach to significantly lower the total installed cost of solar energy systems. Visit the Financial Opportunities page for more information about future funding rounds.
Concentrating Solar Power
Concentrating Solar Power
Learn more about SunShot's other technology to market funding programs.