Moving scientific discoveries from research and development (R&D) concepts to commercially viable and available products to transforming the market via broad adoption is imperative for America to meet its climate goals while growing our economy. DOE’s Building Technologies Office (BTO) research focuses on developing innovative, cost-effective, energy-saving solutions, however, there are barriers to adopting these efficient, smart, and connected technologies that require more than technology innovation. Commercially available products that improve efficiency and demand flexibility may not be adopted for a number of reasons such as limited information on performance and associated value; perceived comfort or services issue; upfront capital cost, and complexity with installation.
Technology-to-market (T2M) activities are designed to accelerate innovative R&D concepts to become commercially viable and available products. These activities then dovetail with market transformation efforts. According to the ACEEE, “Market transformation programs apply strategic interventions in targeted markets, often over long periods, to accelerate or expand the uptake of energy efficiency products or services.” Both T2M and market transformation efforts work to increase market feedback and improve the effectiveness of BTO’s investments. Common failure points within this larger process are referred to as “valleys of death,” as shown in the figure below of the Tech-to Market Process.
Tech-to Market Process: Technology readiness is commonly measured on a nine-point scale referred to as Technology Readiness Level (TRL). TRLs are used to consistently identify technology development stages across technology types. Market Readiness Levels (MRLs) refer to the readiness of a market to accept and adopt a new technology.
Through its T2M portfolio, BTO funds small businesses, universities, industry partners, and national laboratories to overcome these valleys of death and drive high impact, market-relevant technologies from early-stage R&D to private sector commercialization, scale-up and offtake. BTO funding supported the commercialization of 27 technologies and 112 lighting components between 2010 and 2015. Details are available in the R&D to Market Success: BTO-Supported Technologies Commercialized from 2010-2015 Report. BTO is currently updating the R&D Market to Success Report to include commercial successes from 2015 - 2020. The precursor to the R&D to Market Success Report is the Buildings R&D Breakthroughs Report, which covers successes from 2005-2011. For a broader perspective the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy- (EERE-) wide report covers successes from 2009-2015, An Investigation of Innovative Energy Technologies Entering the Market between 2009-2015.
BTO’s T2M activities include funding opportunities and prizes, access to national laboratory facilities and expertise, as well as training and education programs for its network of awardees and partners.