The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Lab-Embedded Entrepreneurship Program (LEEP) recruits the best and brightest minds from across the clean and renewable energy sector through a national call for a two-year funded fellowship. The primary purpose of this fellowship is to provide fellows who have early-stage clean energy startups and/or emerging technologies with the support needed to develop and transition their ideas into the market. 

These entrepreneurs are embedded for a period of two years at one of four national labs where they are mentored by a lab scientist. In addition, LEEP also provides support at the local, regional, and national levels including entrepreneurship training and a networking ecosystem to eliminate the hurdles traditionally faced by early-stage cleantech  startups.

LEEP’s mission is to enable the most promising cleantech entrepreneurs to develop game-changing technologies. These innovators are our clean energy future. New innovations, derived from investments in basic and applied energy research at universities and national labs, are critical to building and scaling America’s clean energy economy.

Calling all dreamers with great clean tech-related ideas who are ready to take their technologies from concept to commercialization! This program was designed for early-stage small-business owners and entrepreneurs whose startups will benefit the American economy and transform clean energy at a global level, if given the chance.

To be eligible to apply for LEEP, you must:

  • Have a technical degree.* 
  • Have at least four or five years of technology R&D experience.* 
  • Be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident at time of application and maintain legally authorization to work in the U.S. for the full duration of the two-year fellowship.
  • Be willing to work on your project full-time and forfeit other primary employment during your fellowship.
  • Not be currently enrolled in a Ph.D. or post-doctoral program at the start of the fellowship.
  • Be willing and able to relocate to the metropolitan area of the national lab where you have been accepted.
  • Reside in local proximity to the national lab for the full duration of the fellowship.
  • Be a novice or first-time technical founder and not a serial entrepreneur.
  • Apply as an individual; Group applications on behalf of a company or team are not supported.

*Specific eligibility requirements differ between the four LEEP nodes. Please refer to the specific webpage of each node for a full list of eligibility requirements and for differences therein.

LEEP's four programs or “nodes” offer participants direct access to the facilities of one of four national laboratories, along with the opportunity to work alongside scientists within those labs, while they work to develop their technological startups. 

Participants receive funding from the DOE to address innovations in the following areas:

  • Advanced materials
  • Improving manufacturing efficiency
  • Industrial decarbonization
  • Lowering building carbon and energy footprints
  • Solar energy
  • Quantum computing
  • Energy storage and the electric grid
  • Circularity (Re-X pathways; circular economy; life cycle analysis)
  • Food, water, energy nexus
  • Carbon dioxide removal (CDR)
  • Carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS)
  • Other technologies that further the DOE’s mission of ensuring America’s security and prosperity by addressing its energy, environmental, and nuclear challenges.

Fellows receive:

  • A paid personal living stipend for the full two-year duration of the program.
  • Healthcare benefits and insurance coverage.
  • A yearly travel allowance for LEEP-related purposes.
  • Access to equipment and scientists at one of four national laboratories.
  • Grant funding to use on collaborative R&D within the national lab where they are placed.
  • Comprehensive mentoring assistance to build a sustainable business model.
  • Speaking opportunities at DOE-sponsored events, including the annual LEEP Summit and LEEP Demo Day, both of which convene ecosystem partners and investors to learn about current LEEP startups and technologies.

What Are the Impacts of LEEP?

The formidable challenges of addressing climate change, sustainability, and social justice will not be solved through the deployment of existing technologies alone. 

America is in critical need of new innovations that will be derived from massive U.S. investments in basic and applied energy research at universities and national energy labs. Only through the commercialization and resulting impact of these innovations will our nation be able to meet the clean energy goals identified by the Biden-Harris administration, including the achievement of a net-zero-carbon-emissions economy by 2050. 

By the Numbers

LEEP has led to:

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New Businesses Started

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Years of Operation

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*Successful startups are defined as those that are still in operation or that have been successfully acquired within five years after completing LEEP. 

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How Do I Apply?

Participants can apply to one of the four LEEP nodes hosted at the following DOE national laboratories:

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Argonne National Laboratory’s Chain Reaction Innovations program in Lemont, Illinois.

Sponsored by the Office of Technology Transitions (OTT) at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the EnergyTech University Prize (EnergyTech UP) is a collegiate competition challenging multidisciplinary student teams to develop and present a business plan that leverages high-potential energy technologies.


Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Cyclotron Road/Activate program in Berkeley, California.

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National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s West Gate program, in Golden, Colorado.

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Oak Ridge National Laboratory Innovation Crossroads program in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Who Are the Current Participants?

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Four startups joined Cohort 7 in the Chain Reaction Innovations node, the entrepreneurship program at Argonne National Laboratory, to develop clean-energy technologies over two years.
Image from Argonne National Laboratory
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At Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a new cohort of 10 scientists and engineersjoined the Cyclotron Road program in 2023.
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A banner labeled "Innovation Crossroads Cohort 7" showing seven headshots in hexagons.
Seven entrepreneurs have embarked on a two-year fellowship as the seventh cohort of Innovation Crossroads node at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Image from Oak Ridge National Laboratory
A banner naming and showing headshots of West Gate's Cohort 2 Selected Innovators
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory announced Lisa Morey, Yaman Peksenar, and Pilanda Watkins-Curry as the second cohort of the West Gate node.
Image from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Who Has Participated and What Innovations Have They Made?

Alumni Successes

News & Blogs

Who Are the Key Supporters and Partners?

Multiple offices within and outside of DOE fund innovators in the program working on technologies critical to their missions, and the LEEP nodes strengthen ties to their local and regional ecosystems through strategic partnerships. 

DOE offices that support LEEP include:

Other key supporters and partners of LEEP:

  • Activate (Cyclotron Road) 
  • Colorado School of Mines (West Gate)
  • Tennessee Valley Authority (Innovation Crossroads).