WASHINGTON -- Furthering efforts to encourage clean energy innovation in nuclear energy, the Department of Energy (DOE) released a draft Request for Assistance (RFA) today for the Nuclear Energy Voucher Program to be used by small business applicants. The voucher program will give businesses access to DOE’s unique, globally recognized facilities and researchers, which will help them further their efforts to develop next generation nuclear energy technologies. The Nuclear Energy Voucher Program represents a pilot initiative of the Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) to provide the nuclear community with access to the technical, regulatory, and financial support necessary to move new or advanced nuclear reactor designs toward commercialization while ensuring the continued safe, reliable, and economic operation of the existing nuclear fleet.​ GAIN was launched in November 2015 as the nuclear energy component of DOE’s Clean Energy Investment Center.

“Strong engagement between federal agencies, the research community, and technology developers is vital to bring new nuclear technologies to market, and is a core mission of GAIN,” said Under Secretary of Science and Energy, Lynn Orr.  “By providing companies access to the Department’s world class nuclear researchers, data, and facilities, we will help build the partnerships necessary to bring innovative technologies to the market faster by helping them solve their most pressing challenges.” Recent reports have found strong interest in nuclear energy innovation from a number of new companies.  Through this voucher initiative, the Energy Department will provide small businesses access to the expertise and tools to test, validate, and introduce new products, expand businesses, and grow the clean nuclear energy industry. 

The Department is seeking feedback on the draft RFA and will accept comments and questions until February 16, 2016. The final RFA will be issued by March 1, 2016 and the selected applicants will be announced in the spring. These cost-shared vouchers will support small businesses by providing funding to a federally funded research and development center or a partner user facility to help companies overcome critical technology and commercialization challenges.  Project are anticipated to be 6-12 months in duration and during the initial pilot project, the Energy Department will fund up to 10 vouchers providing a total DOE cost-share of $2 million.

Additional information on the pilot Nuclear Energy Voucher Program and the Draft RFA can be found at http://gain.inl.gov.