Big ideas for building more secure and reliable energy systems across the U.S. do not always come from big organizations. Small businesses may have the solutions we need, but without the research and development (R&D) resources of larger companies, those ideas may go unexplored and don’t make it to market. The federal government actively supports small businesses across several markets through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, a Congressionally-mandated funding mechanism otherwise known as “America’s Seed Fund”, to help these organizations advance their ideas from concept through commercialization.  

The Department of Energy (DOE) contributes to the SBIR program with a focus on prioritizing early investment in R&D projects in scientific, clean energy, and climate research technology areas. DOE’s Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER) has funded multiple projects annually since 2018 across a variety of topics. CESER’s latest project selections, awarded in July 2023, will fund eight innovative small businesses that are advancing cybersecurity among distributed energy resources (DERs). DERs are small scale sources of power, like solar panels or wind turbines, and are an important part towards achieving President Biden’s clean energy and decarbonization goals. As such, securing DERs is key to achieving Strategic Objective 4.4: Secure Our Clean Energy Future of the National Cybersecurity Strategy

CESER is awarding the businesses listed below with seed funding to work on advancing the cybersecurity of DER systems. All of these projects are in Phase I of the SBIR program, where projects are scoped to prove feasibility of innovative concepts with a federal grant of up to $200,000 for 12 months.

Company Name  

Project Title  

Project Summary  

Applied Engineering Concepts, Inc.  


This project intends to detect and mitigate cyberattacks by exploiting intrinsic physical features of device communication signals on fiber optic networks.    


Dover Microsystems Inc.  

Dover CoreGuard V2 

This project will detect changes to the software elements and data breaches and provide mechanisms to recover from attacks that alter software and/or data. 


ecoLong LLC  

Hybrid cyber protection DER-OT (HyDER-OT) Platform  

This project will explore a hardware-agnostic multi-layer cybersecurity solution that enhances the performance and reliability of DERs, thereby improving grid resiliency and the security of operational technologies.


Epower Technology LLC  

Self-Security for Grid-Interactive Smart Inverters   

This project will develop a unique self-security firmware that allows an inverter to predict cyberattacks and protect the inverter from engaging any malicious command.  


InfoBeyond Technology, LLC  

OT-Healer: A Real-time Decentralized Self-Security/Healing Tool for DER OT Resiliency  

This project is an AI-powered hybrid behavior-based IDS (Intrusion Detection System) with optimal self-healing OT control generation for automatically mitigating the malicious disturbance in an effective, distributive, and decentralized way.  


Nokomis, Inc.  

Emission-Based Monitoring for Cyber Threat Detection of DER Systems  

This project will develop a method to detect cyber threats by analyzing unintended radio frequency emissions that electronics of a DER controller system emit to detect real time system changes and threats.  

uberSpark INC  

Modular and Provably Secure Distributed Energy Resource (DER) Monitoring Framework  

This project will pioneer a modular, provably secure, mathematically backed network monitoring system that will be immune to entire classes of cyberattacks.   


VIA Science Inc.  

Zero-Knowledge Proofs to Verify Distributed Energy Resource (DER) Production  

This project focuses on integrating post-quantum cryptographic solutions with zero-knowledge proofs that can be used for tracking and proving the authenticity of various energy related data (e.g., electricity usage, carbon production, EV charging time, etc.) without revealing private or personal information of the user. 

For a full list of the 2023 SBIR awards across all DOE offices, click here.