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While visiting the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, today, Vice President Biden announced that the Colorado-based start-up company U.S. e-Chromic LLC has signed the first agreement in the "America's Next Top Energy Innovator"  challenge.

The challenge, which started on May 2, allows start-up companies to apply for the Department of Energy's many thousand unlicensed patents for reduced cost and paperwork. Part of the Obama Administration's Startup America Initiative, the challenge is designed to drive innovation and bring more new energy technologies to market.

Based on their agreement with the Energy Department, U.S. e-Chromic LLC will use electrochromic technology developed by the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to create a new thin film window material that reflects sunlight on demand, making windows more energy efficient and reduce cooling costs for consumers.  

The "America's Next Top Energy Innovator" challenge continues through December 15. The portfolio of patents available under the 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. If you have a start-up company that's interested, you can look through the available unlicensed patents on the Energy Department's Innovation Portal and read answers to the most frequently asked questions here.

To date, more than 250 companies and entrepreneurs have  already inquired about the available technologies.

In a year, we'll showcase the start-up companies who make the most progress toward executing their business plan and commercializing their new technology at the 2012 ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit.