“I believe we can innovate our way to solutions—both small and large—that will turn the tide against climate change, that will make clean energy more affordable and more accessible, make our energy system more resilient, our country more secure, and our economy stronger, and more equitable than ever.” — Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm

On July 12, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) hosted the first-ever Lab-Embedded Entrepreneurship Program Summit. The Summit convened more than 300 clean-tech stakeholders from across the country, including investors, universities, industry, deep-tech accelerators/incubators, community leaders, and representatives from DOE, U.S. National Labs, and other government agencies.

The hybrid in-person and virtual event highlighted the program’s clean tech innovators at all four Lab-Embedded Entrepreneurship Program sites—Chain Reaction Innovations at Argonne National Laboratory; Cyclotron Road at Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory; Innovation Crossroads at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and West Gate at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory—and showcased how DOE and the national labs are supporting small businesses to accelerate innovation and increase the diversity of innovators powering America’s clean energy economy.

Secretary Granholm

(Image by Argonne National Laboratory.)

DOE Leadership Welcomes Summit Attendees

Secretary Granholm kicked off the event with an opening keynote speech. During her remarks, Secretary Granholm highlighted the many accomplishments of the program to develop solutions that address climate change, economic recovery, national security, and social justice. Kelly Speakes-Backman, former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, also addressed attendees speaking about the program’s unique model that funds innovators and helps them embed their businesses and solutions into communities to help build a clean energy future that:

  • Creates good-paying jobs,
  • Lowers energy bills, and
  • Supports a path toward U.S. energy independence.

Promoting Diversity & Inclusion

The Summit also focused on diversity and inclusion and the Lab-Embedded Entrepreneurship Program’s ability to empower a diverse and skilled group of innovators and build the clean energy workforce of the future—a workforce that looks like America. Lady Idos, DOE’s Deputy Director for the Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility, spoke about the need to include diverse groups to promote equitable outcomes.  

Shalanda Baker

(Image by Argonne National Laboratory.)

Shalanda Baker, Director, DOE Office of Economic Impact and Diversity moderated a panel on inclusive innovation and tackled the question of how we can work together to overcome the challenge of climate change, foster economic recovery, and support social justice through inclusive innovation. The panel talked about the importance of building diverse teams; creating work environments where people feel safe, heard, and valued no matter their background; and investing in diverse communities with job training and resources. The panel introduction also highlighted Students for Energy & Entrepreneurial Development (SEED)—the Chain Reactions Innovations internship program at Argonne National Laboratory. SEED empowers Chicago college students from under-resourced communities to pursue and excel in STEM careers.

Presenters at the LEEP Summit event

(Image by Argonne National Laboratory.)

Welcoming a New Group of Innovators

Through a two-year fellowship, the Lab-Embedded Entrepreneurship Program helps talented entrepreneurs turn their ideas into action. To date, Lab-Embedded Entrepreneurship Program entrepreneurs have collectively attracted $918 million in follow-on funding for their startups and created 1,000 jobs. During the event, more than 20 startups and program alumni pitched their cutting-edge technologies and demonstrated their innovations for attendees. Watch the pitches:

LEEP Summit Cohort

(Image by Argonne National Laboratory.)

The program also welcomed its newest location — West Gate at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado in addition to announcing new cohorts of innovators at the following sites:

Learn more about the Lab-Embedded Entrepreneurship Program and read about the latest round of innovators.