The Department of Energy Lifts Up Green Entrepreneurs

Authors: Daniel Sanchez, Capital Access Program Small Businesses are the engine of job growth in America. Recognizing this fact, the U.S. Department of Energy has launched several initiatives intended to lift up small green business. As part of President Obama’s Startup America Initiative, two of these initiatives include the America’s Next Top Energy Innovator challenge and Entrepreneurial Mentor Corps program. On March 29, 2011, Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the America’s Next Top Energy Innovator challenge, which will give start up companies the opportunity to license groundbreaking technologies developed by the U.S. National Laboratories for $1,000 and build successful businesses. Cost savings under this program range from $10,000-$50,000. As part of this effort, the Department is reducing both the cost and paperwork requirements for start-up companies to license some of the 15,000 patents held by their 17 National Laboratories. The program runs from May 2 – December 15, 2011. Entrepreneurs must identify their technology of interest and submit a business plan to be considered for the program. Equity and royalties will be handled on a case-by-case basis and will be due as the company achieves wide scale commercial success. In a similar vein, on February 16, 2011, the DOE and Small Business Administration (SBA) announced the launch of an Entrepreneurial Mentor Corps, a 1-year pilot program to connect clean startups with mentors. The initiative will pair small businesses with mentors who can support them through challenges, and help them scale their venture. The program is similar in design with Green for All’s own Business Coaching Program and Accenture Mentorship for Green Entrepreneurs. The Capital Access Program (CAP) at Green for All applauds these initiatives, and believes they contribute to CAP’s mission to create, sustain, and scale green jobs in the U.S.

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