DOE Issues Innovation Crossroads Innovator Solicitation

The world requires new approaches to energy that are reliable, affordable and carbon neutral. While important progress has been made in cost reduction and deployment of clean energy technologies, the pace of innovation and the scale of transformation and dissemination remains significantly short of what is needed.

Innovation Crossroads is being established by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to provide entrepreneurs with a unique support system to enable them to transform their early stage ideas for advanced materials- or manufacturing based-energy technologies into scalable companies that can provide solutions in clean energy.

This is not an easy journey. It usually requires extensive R&D work and the development of business models, partners, and financing mechanisms, often simultaneously. Innovation Crossroads will select up to five energy innovators to explore their ideas at ORNL, providing initial resources they need to address these challenges. With up to two years of funding, from ORNL and DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), innovators will have the opportunity to focus full-time on their energy idea, on R&D collaborations with ORNL researchers, on entrepreneurial training and mentoring, and on introductions to potential industry partners and investors. 

Innovation Crossroads, in partnership with business mentors, will help selected innovators in the physical sciences and energy technologies to mature their early stage innovations. As part of Innovation Crossroads, EERE will directly fund ORNL to work with each selected innovator to develop their technology. Additionally, EERE will provide an Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) fellowship to the selected innovators. ORNL is presently looking for up to five innovators for its first cohort of the Innovation Crossroads program. 

Benefits to selected innovators may include: 

  • Up to 2 years of Innovation Crossroads resources (subject to performance & availability of funding) including the following:
  •  Personal stipend, travel allowance, and health benefits through ORISE  fellowship;
  • Lab space & technical collaboration support from ORNL; and
  • Innovation Crossroads programming and mentorship.
  • Continued benefits after "graduating" for up to 5 years in total (innovators will graduate after the earlier of 2 years in the program or upon raising $2M in private-sector funding) that may include the following:
  • Continued technical collaboration support from ORNL through a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) on a pay-in basis;
  • On-site Innovation Crossroads lab occupancy on a pay-in basis; or
  • Access to Innovation Crossroads programming on a pay-in basis.

Each of the above is contingent upon availability of funds and personnel, negotiation of a mutually agreeable scope of work, as well as DOE approval. Learn more on the website.