Is the government searching for America’s Next Top Model? No, but the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is searching for America’s Next Top Energy Innovator. Today, the DOE announced the energy innovator challenge, which is part of the Startup America Initiative. This isn’t a head-to-head competition where one entrepreneur will be left standing at the end. Instead, the DOE is making it easier and less costly for energy startups to take advantage of certain DOE patents.

"America's entrepreneurs and innovators are the best in the world," said Secretary Chu.  "Today, we're challenging them to create new businesses based on discoveries made by our world-leading national laboratories.  Because we've cut the upfront fees and reduced the paperwork, we'll make it easier for start-up companies to succeed and create the new jobs our economy needs.  Our goal is simple: unleash America's innovation machine and win the global race for the clean energy jobs of the future."  Source: DOE

Entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to license up to three patents for a $1,000 fee, which is significantly less than the $10,000 to $50,000 in upfront fees that are typically charged. Of course, there are many more nuances to the program but the main point of the program is to reduce upfront expenses. This means that entrepreneurs will have fewer financial roadblocks to overcome when launching a new startup. New startups lead to new jobs and this country definitely needs new jobs.

The DOE announcement includes a few examples of the patents that will be available to entrepreneurs as part of the America’s Next Top Energy Innovator challenge. One example given is in the solar energy storage, transportation and conversion industry. The patented technology, which came out of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, converts solar energy to chemical energy and ultimately into thermal energy. This allows the energy to be stored and transported - overcoming one of the big challenges of renewable energy.

For more information, visit the DOE Energy Innovation Portal.

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