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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.   

How is your 'like' counted? In addition to the number of 'likes' cast for each company, an expert panel from the Energy Department will evaluate each company for their potential economic and social impact. The top three performing companies across all these categories combined will receive a free registration to participate in the 2012 ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit and an opportunity to present their innovation at its technology showcase. 

Note: Individuals could 'like' one company more than once. Many 'likes' from a single IP address were considered in the overall selection process. 

Have Feedback? This is's first time trying this form of online engagement. We want to hear from you on how to improve. Share your feedback with the New Media Office.  

Disclaimer: This exercise does not represent an endorsement of these companies by the U.S. Department of Energy.