In Case You Missed It: DOE Lab-Corps 2016 in Review

January 18, 2017

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DOE Lab-Corps graduates made headlines across the country last year. These national lab innovators celebrated new industry partnerships, follow-on funding, and a deeper understanding of their technologies' value to the market.

Since launching in fall 2015, more than 50 teams have completed the entrepreneurial training. Some of these teams even focused on technologies outside of the energy efficiency and renewable energy portfolio. Four teams were supported by the Office of Nuclear Energy and one team by the Office of Fossil Energy. 2017 brings the addition of the Office of Science, the Office of Electricity, and the Office of Environmental Management. This expansion not only reflects the success achieved by program graduates in the clean energy field, but it demonstrates the need across research areas to expose scientists to early industry engagement.

We have much to look forward to in 2017, but first, we wanted to highlight our top 2016 news segments and articles demonstrating the importance of DOE Lab-Corps and the progress of our teams.

1. Ystrategies Corp. Enters Agreement with NREL to Develop Innovative Air Conditioning Approach
In Mid-December, National Renewable Energy Laboratory cohort 1 team EcoSnap officially entered a partnership with Ystrategies Corp. to co-develop their innovative, patent-pending air conditioning unit. “The demand for cooling is only going to increase over the next few decades. Efficiency, and affordability will be critical. EcoSnap™ is an excellent opportunity to launch a business that disrupts the industry status quo," said Lab-Corps faculty member and Ystrategies Chairman and CEO Jim Kiles. The team also received a 2016 R&D 100 award.

2. Innovation Fund Invests $500,000 in Health and Energy Companies
RWEDI-Water, a cohort 2 Argonne National Lab (ANL) team supported by the Bioenergy Technologies Office, will be awarded up to $250,000 by the University of Chicago Innovation Fund for their water separations technology. The University’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation announced RWEDI-Water as a grant winner in their December 9 update.

3. Lab-Corps: Connecting Top Lab Researchers with Entrepreneurial Training and the Marketplace
The Colorado Cleantech Industries Association (CCIA), a long-time partner of DOE's Lab-Corps program, published a feature piece detailing the history of Lab-Corps and extolling its virtues in Innovative Energy Review, CCIA's journal publication.

4. Building the Bridge: Helping New Clean Energy Technologies Transition to Market
Idaho National Laboratory (INL) has put more teams through DOE's Lab-Corps than any other national lab. In his Idaho State Journal column, Steven Aumeirer, Director of INL’s Center for Advanced Energy Studies, discusses the challenges energy innovations face in reaching the market. He reflects on the important role DOE’s Lab-Corps and EERE’s Small Business Vouchers pilot play in bridging the gap between the lab-bench and the marketplace.

5. Illinois-Based Tech Startup Wins Inaugural Fort Collins Innovation Challenge
Cohort 2 team Smart Charge Adapter, now named Qmulus, won the inaugural Fort Collins Innovation Challenge last fall. The ANL team, sponsored by the Vehicle Technologies Office, uses an adapter that connects electric-vehicle supply equipment with a plug-in electric vehicle and collects data about charging habits. Qmulus’ partnership with the city will help the company test and validate their technology solution within the Fort Collins Utilities electric grid.

6. Progress on President Obama’s “Lab to Market” Initiative
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released a blog post updating the public on the progress made towards the Lab-to-Market Cross-Agency Priority Goal. OSTP highlighted cohort 1 ANL team, SonicLQ (supported by the Building Technologies Office), as an example of how DOE helps maximize the benefit federally funded research has on creating technologies with real-world impact. In the blog, the team’s Principal Investigator Ralph Muehleisen details how the DOE Lab-Corps experience was a game changer for his team and technology, as well as the value of having national lab researchers understand the value of their innovations to the market.

7. Which Electric Car is Right for You?
Popular Science featured Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researcher Samveg Saxena and his team MyGreenCar in an article looking at the future of electric cars. MyGreenCar is an app that allows drivers to virtually test drive green vehicles in the hopes of reducing anxiety over the switch to electric vehicles and encouraging the transition to green transportation.

8. Through a Glass, Warmly: Nanomaterials Can Help Make Windows More Efficient, a nanotechnology news and networking site, cross-posted this ANL blog post highlighting cohort 2 Lab-Corps alumni NanoHeatBlock. The team, sponsored by the Advanced Manufacturing Office, also won a $3.1M grant through DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) for their technology using nanomaterials to improve the energy efficiency of existing single-pane windows in commercial and residential buildings.

9. Need Cash, but Can’t Get Investors? Try Grants
This Chicago Tribune article from March highlighted local DOE Lab-Corps alumni SonicLQ, a cohort 1 team from ANL. SoniqLQ also participated in the Clean Energy Trust Challenge, a $1million dollar nationally-acclaimed accelerator program and pitch competition.