March is Women’s History Month, and we are highlighting and celebrating the amazing women across our Department of Energy (DOE) community, including our incredible staff at the Office of Technology Transitions (OTT).
For our next installment in the Meet an OTTer series, we wanted to introduce you to our Program Manager, Katherine Harsanyi. Katherine has played an instrumental role leading our Energy Program for Innovation Clusters (EPIC) and Practices to Accelerate the Commercialization of Technologies (PACT) projects across the Lab complex. We are grateful for all of Katherine’s hard work at the Department, as well as all the women contributing to DOE’s mission every day.
Office of Technology Transitions: Hi, Katherine! We are so excited to chat with you today and get to know you and your role as Program Manager at OTT a little bit better! But before we get into the nitty-gritty, briefly tell us about your background and how you arrived at OTT.
Katherine Harsanyi: I transferred into OTT from DOE’s Office of Policy where I was a financial analyst working on policy, financial, and market analysis. I was really excited to move to OTT and take on the Program Manager role to support DOE’s commercialization activities.
OTT: What does your role entail?
KH: I’ve spent most of the past year developing and running OTT’s very first Prize and FOA competitions: the Energy Program for Innovation Clusters. I was also lucky to take over some exciting National Lab programs as well.
OTT: EPIC has been an incredible opportunity for regional innovators. Why do you think it’s so important for OTT and the Department to support these energy incubators and ecosystems?
KH: Building new energy tech is tough, so it’s important to support the innovation accelerating organizations who decide to take on these time- and capital-intensive challenges. They are critical to the growth of an innovation economy as these organizations help entrepreneurs accelerate the launch, growth, and scale of their businesses, ultimately resulting in the commercialization of new technologies, business models, and development of jobs in the United States.
OTT: In October, OTT announced the 20 winners selected for the $1 million EPIC prize. What did the EPIC team learn from the first part of this two-part program? Any takeaways or surprises?
KH: Well this was OTT’s very first prize, so we learned a lot about what goes into developing a prize competition. We also learned of a lot of super cool innovation accelerating organizations all over the USA and the great projects these entities are involved in.
OTT: OTT released a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) for EPIC, rounding out the second part of the program. For the FOA, where does the focus lie in comparison to the EPIC prize? How will this complement the overall goal of the EPIC program?
KH: Complementing and narrowing down the EPIC prize further, the FOA seeks to recognize innovation accelerating organizations focused on stimulating energy hardware development and related supportive ecosystems. DOE plans to fund organizations that propose and implement regional engagement plans that encourage ecosystems for testing, validation, and demonstration of technologies to help them scale and enhance U.S. energy manufacturing competitiveness.
OTT: You have also supported some of OTT’s selected PACT projects. Briefly tell us about your experience supporting these awardees.
KH: These are really fun and exciting projects that support entrepreneurial thinking, cybersecurity innovation, and women entrepreneurs at the National Labs. It has been great working with the Labs and solving problems together.
OTT: As you know, we love to celebrate technology successes coming from our National Labs. Can you tell us one of your favorite success stories?
KH: So much interesting tech has come out of the National Labs. I can’t choose just one!
We hope you enjoyed meeting Katherine, and thank you for joining us in celebrating the amazing accomplishments of women at DOE.
Make sure you read our first post in this series on former OTT Commercialization Executive Erick Hunt here, and stay tuned for more enjoyable conversations with Team OTT!