On July 11-12, 2023, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) hosted the 2023 DOE Small Business Forum & Expo in New Orleans. Over 1,200 people attended the two-day event designed to help make it easier to do business with DOE, share resources and best practices for success, and provide a wide range of opportunities for small and disadvantaged businesses. Check out three major highlights from the event below:
Day one featured welcome remarks from OSDBU Director Ron Pierce to set the stage, preview the agenda, and introduce the first Keynote Speaker: Mr. Wendell Pierce, the renowned actor, author, activist, small business owner, and brother of Director Pierce.
Mr. Wendell Pierce's Keynote covered the vital importance of small businesses and giving back to the community. Part of the Keynote included his work leading the Pontchartrain Park Community Development Corporation to build new affordable solar and geothermal homes in the area where he and Director Pierce grew up in New Orleans that was devastated by Hurricane Katrina.
Day two included welcome remarks from DOE’s Secretarial Advisor on Equity and Director of Office of Economic Impact and Diversity Shalanda Baker and featured a Keynote from U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm on the Administration's accomplishments in clean energy investments and infrastructure and the pivotal role that DOE and small businesses are playing in the clean energy transition. Secretary Granholm highlighted the DOE's small business achievements, including notable increases in awards to small businesses from diverse backgrounds such as women- and veteran-owned firms. After Secretary Granholm's Keynote, Director Pierce joined the Secretary for a Fireside Chat to field questions from small businesses interested in partnering with DOE to power the clean energy economy.
Last year, our Department invested $10.7 billion in contracts and subcontracts with small businesses. That's more than ever before--by a factor of nearly a billion dollars!
2. EPIC Pitch Competition
A brand new feature of the 2023 DOE Small Business Forum & Expo included The Big Easy EPIC Pitch Competition in the Gator Swamp (EPIC Pitch Competition) in collaboration with the Office of Technology Transitions (OTT) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The competition involved 8 cutting-edge clean tech startups pitching their unique ideas for a clean energy breakthrough to a panel of expert judges. The eight startups featured in the competition were nominated by competitors in OTT's Energy Program for Innovation Clusters (EPIC) Prize.
The winners took home over $160,000 in cash prizes for their groundbreaking clean energy technologies that will help provide vital solutions to the climate crisis. KLAW Industries from Binghamton, NY received the first place prize of $100,000 in DOE funding for its pitch on Pantheon™, a high-quality, partial cement replacement made from post-consumer glass that will help to save costs and lower carbon emissions. Rounding out the second to fifth place awards were Renewell Energy from Bakersfield, CA and Houston, TX; C-Motive Technologies of Middleton, WI; ReJoule from Signal Hill, CA; and Plantd of Durham, NC.
The EPIC Pitch Competition will be a staple of the DOE Small Business Forum & Expo moving forward to support small businesses and entrepreneurship with a green twist.
3. Small Business Awards Ceremony, Breakout Sessions, and Exhibit Hall
The 2023 DOE Small Business Forum & Expo also provided a wide range of educational workshops, referred to as breakout sessions. Breakout sessions covered doing business with DOE's program offices, sites, and national laboratories. Additional topics included an overview of DOE’s Mentor Protégé Program, the newly established Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations, Office of State and Community Energy Programs, Joint Office of Energy and Transportation, and stakeholder support for veteran-owned small businesses. Features of the breakout sessions included small business resources, best practices, and upcoming opportunities.
With over 100 exhibitors, the Exhibit Hall offered small businesses the chance to network for opportunities with DOE and its partners. The 2023 DOE Small Business Forum & Expo also included an awards ceremony to honor and recognize the outstanding achievements of the many small businesses and internal DOE stakeholders who have helped promote and expand the utilization of small businesses.
Thank you to the OSDBU staff for hosting this event and a special thanks to partnering DOE offices, leadership, contract support, attendees, speakers, and moderators. A big thanks as well to exhibitors and sponsors for making this such an incredible event and for your continued support.
Please join us for the 2024 DOE Small Business Forum in Minneapolis! For more information on doing business with DOE, please visit the OSDBU website.