A trio of researchers from the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) that took part in Lab-Corps—a pilot for lab researchers working to transition discoveries to the marketplace—left the seven-week boot camp with fresh ideas about how to bring their “products” to the private sector.
The Biolyst Renewables team now has a different perspective on scale-up issues tied to bringing new technologies to market, as well as how to better compete with petroleum products in an environmentally sustainable manner. The team was part of the second cohort of EERE’s Lab-Corps pilot, which pairs select researchers with industry mentors and connects them to companies in fields related to their technologies.
The Lab-Corps pilot is designed to empower lab researchers and scientists with the tools, resources, and relationships necessary to commercialize their innovations. Some of the fundamental skills taught in Lab-Corps include customer discovery, the merits of launching a startup versus licensing to a large company, and the necessary steps to technology commercialization.
“The boot camp really changed how we can approach the questions we ask as researchers and has given us a new way to view what comes next,” said Chris Johnson, a molecular biologist with the Biolyst Renewables team that has developed technologies to renewably produce adipic acid (a primary component of nylon).
The team sees potential applications for its bio-based technologies in the automotive, textiles, and consumer product sectors. The production of adipic acid from petroleum releases significant quantities of nitrous oxide. Team Biolyst’s method overcomes this issue by producing adipic acid renewably from biomass at low cost and eliminating the release of nitrous oxide, resulting in one-tenth the greenhouse gas footprint.
Key Facts About Lab-Corps
- Specialized training curriculum aimed at accelerating the transfer of clean energy technologies from national labs into the commercial marketplace.
- Eight Energy Department labs were selected to participate to assemble entrepreneurial teams to identify private sector opportunities to commercialize clean energy technologies.
- Pilot is managed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory with support from Brookhaven National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratories.
The Biolyst Renewables team is one of 14 to graduate from the most recent Lab-Corps round of training at NREL in Golden, Colorado. The aim of EERE’s Lab-Corps pilot, part of the Lab Impact Initiative effort launched in 2013, is to accelerate the deployment of lab-developed technologies into the market and to foster a more commercially aware and entrepreneurial culture at the Energy Department’s labs.
A third cohort will kick off July 12–15 at NREL.
Amped Up! Magazine is the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s publication that highlights breaking technologies and achievements in renewable power, energy efficiency and sustainable transportation that influence global change toward a clean energy economy.