Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $54 million in seed funding for U.S. small businesses to research, develop, and create commercialization plans for new technologies that equitably accelerate the national transition to a clean energy economy. Applicants may receive up to $250,000 through DOE’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs and become eligible for up to $1.6 million in follow-on funding.

“The SBIR program plays an important role in fueling U.S. innovation to answer the pressing challenges we face as a society,” said Under Secretary for Science and Energy Geraldine Richmond. “Small businesses are critical players in our innovation ecosystem, and we must enable their contributions toward tackling the climate crisis, deploying next-generation clean energy technologies, and leading the research breakthroughs at the core of America’s scientific leadership.”

For the first time, the SBIR/STTR funding opportunity will support small businesses that integrate practices to advance equity. Specifically, DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) seeks solutions where small-business technology developers partner with community organizations that have often been left out of clean energy planning and development.

Small businesses are the fabric of the U.S. economy and can contribute to help fight climate change while reversing energy injustices among underserved communities throughout the country,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for EERE Kelly Speakes-Backman. “This funding will support them as they work directly with people from those communities to advance their decarbonized energy innovations.”

This funding opportunity aligns with EERE’s goal to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. EERE will award funding to projects that can help achieve the following:

  • Diversify sustainable sources of minerals and materials needed to manufacture clean energy technologies
  • Enhance thermal energy storage technologies for buildings
  • Improve recyclability and reuse of retired solar panels and components
  • Increase hydropower and marine energy generation
  • Convert biomass and other waste into cost-effective, carbon-free fuels
  • Develop technologies for affordable, efficient hydrogen production, delivery, and storage

EERE will also award funding to proposals to license technologies developed by a DOE national lab. These technology-transfer opportunities include:

  • A hydrogen-contaminant detector for hydrogen refueling stations
  • A product that optimizes real-time dispatch of distributed energy resources, like solar
  • A technology to track solar collector error direction on a commercial-scale heliostat field

U.S. small businesses interested in applying for an SBIR/STTR award must submit a letter of intent by 5 p.m. ET on Jan. 3, 2022, and full applications are due Feb. 22, 2022.

View the full list of topics, and apply for funding: SBIR Funding Opportunity Announc... | U.S. DOE Office of Science (SC) (osti.gov). Applicants are highly encouraged to use the public Teaming Partners List to include individuals from historically underrepresented groups on their project teams. The teams will study their innovation’s feasibility and develop a proof of concept for 6-12 months.

SBIR/STTR awardees can receive additional funding to support commercialization activities through the Technical and Business Assistance (TABA) program. Activities may include product sales, intellectual property protections, market research, market validation, and more. Awardees can find TABA partners through the American-Made Network, a diverse group of companies and industry leaders that offers mentorship and helps small businesses forge connections and advance their innovations.

The SBIR/STTR programs have helped thousands of American small businesses develop and test prototypes that have led to disruptive innovations in energy efficiency, sustainable transportation, and renewable power. For more information, visit the SBIR/STTR Programs Office webpage.