The America’s Next Top Energy Innovator Challenge, a part of the Startup America initiative, made it easier for start-ups to use inventions and technology developed at the U.S. Department of Energy’s 17 National Laboratories and the Y-12 National Security Complex.

The companies highlighted below signed option agreements allowing them to license valuable, cutting-edge technologies from one of the labs.

You can see the winners of the 2012 competition here

We counted your 'likes' and then left it up to the panel of experts to evaluate which three of these companies are selected to attend the 2012 ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit, the premier annual gathering of clean energy investors and innovators around the country.