The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Technology Transitions (OTT) intends to issue its annual appropriated Technology Commercialization Fund (TCF) solicitation, a call for proposals from DOE National Laboratories, Plants, and Sites (DOE National Labs and Facilities). The goal of TCF is to improve America’s energy competitiveness and security by accelerating commercialization and the shepherding of critical clean energy technologies from the lab to the market, where the private sector will continue to innovate. OTT anticipates releasing the Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 appropriated TCF solicitation in or around December 2022. OTT will post the solicitation to Exchange and distribute the TCF solicitation announcement to the Technology Transfer Offices at each of the eligible DOE National Labs and Facilities. The estimated DOE funding available for this Lab Call could be approximately $20 million.
This solicitation offers an opportunity for private industry to partner with DOE’s National Labs and Facilities to advance energy-related technologies and Lab and Facility Intellectual Property (IP) toward commercialization and to reduce the barriers to commercializing Lab and Facility developed energy-related technologies and IP. TCF projects, in the six topic areas below, may require matching cost share from non-federal sources. These sources may include industry, state and local governments, or entities they have created. In FY23, DOE expects to select TCF projects from DOE National Labs and Facilities in the following six topics:
- Topic 1: This topic will seek proposals from Labs and partner organizations to develop cross-lab industry-and sector-specific “market needs-assessment” capabilities to identify and understand emerging market needs and the related technology solutions that are needed for commercial purposes. This program should also assess the industry-specific technology market needs for clean generation and a secure and modernized energy infrastructure to meet the administration goal to equitably transition the U.S. economy to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions no later than 2050.
- Topic 2: This topic will seek bold ideas and significant improvements in how Labs bring their IP to market. Ideas could include enhanced information sharing, IP marketing, or other efforts to curate Lab IP but should generally focus on ensuring Lab-created IP supports solutions to timely energy technology problems. This topic seeks to innovate how Labs connect Lab-created IP with private sector partners. It is highly encouraged for proposals to incorporate findings of the market needs assessment described in Topic 1.
- Topic 3: This topic will seek proposals from Labs to create or expand business incubation programming that will result in the creation of teams that will move Lab IP to market. Programming could include recruitment of talent outside of the Lab, matchmaking programs to connect entrepreneurs with Lab staff and resources, and additional support that will yield commercialization of promising Lab-created IP.
- Topic 4: This topic will seek proposals from Labs to advance the commercialization of individual energy-related technologies. Projects funded under this topic will need to incorporate Lab-created IP and be at a stage that will generate private sector interest. The FY22 TCF Core Laboratory Infrastructure for Commercialization Lab Call did not accept proposals under this topic; however, proposals will be accepted under this topic in FY23.
- Topic 5: This topic will seek proposals from Labs to streamline internal Lab processes to move Lab-developed, promising energy-related technologies toward commercial purposes, as well as to enable faster and simpler commercialization processes. Process improvements could focus on improvements to contracting mechanisms, licensing of IP, and other ideas to streamline processes and catalyze synergies.
- Topic 6: This topic seeks proposals from Labs to make it easier for the private sector to work with National Labs. Proposals could include streamlining the partnering process as well as efforts to standardize the partnering process across multiple Labs. Goals of this topic area are to decrease barriers to working with the Labs, increase the number and diversity of private sector partners as well as to accelerate and deepen connectivity with external commercialization parties.
This is a Notice of Intent (NOI) only. DOE may issue a solicitation as described here, one later than expected, one that is significantly different than described here, or may not issue a solicitation at all. The anticipated solicitation will include information about how to apply. DOE will not respond to questions about the solicitation except from eligible entities. Other interested parties should contact DOE National Labs and Facilities for information about partnering with them on a TCF proposal.