Energy and Commerce Departments Announce Lab Partnership Opportunities for U.S. Small Businesses and Manufacturers

As part of the Energy Department’s commitment to drive clean energy innovation and boost American industrial competitiveness, Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Dr. David Danielson today announced the launch of the Manufacturing Innovation through Energy and Commerce (MITEC) pilot in four states—Georgia, Michigan, Ohio, and Virginia. The program will provide small businesses access to the advanced tools, technology transfer expertise, and research capabilities of the Energy Department’s national laboratories and to the technical assistance and business development resources of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), which is a program within the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

This new interagency partnership strives to broaden the commercial impact of Energy Department’s national labs and equip American entrepreneurs and businesses with the resources and support they need to develop new products, commercialize clean energy technologies and expand into global markets.

Assistant Secretary Danielson made the announcement today at the American Energy and Manufacturing Competitiveness Northeast Regional Summit at the City College of New York in New York City. The event showcases the Energy Department’s Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative (CEMI), which is enhancing U.S. manufacturing competitiveness while advancing the nation’s energy goals, boosting the economy, and contributing to energy security.

“To advance American leadership in clean energy manufacturing, this new pilot program will help small- and medium-sized companies access the complementary technical capabilities and entrepreneurial resources of the Energy Department’s National Laboratories and the Department of Commerce’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership Centers,” said Danielson. “Furthering the goals of the Energy Department’s Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative, the MITEC pilot program launched today will help manufacturers access a broad range of technical resources and partnership opportunities to bring new clean energy technologies to market faster.”

MITEC will use the Department of Commerce’s network of MEP Centers—which support technology transfer efforts, foster collaborations, and share best-practices—to connect small- and medium-sized companies with EERE’s array of research and development programs.  This support will help manufacturers address technical barriers to commercial scale-up and provide them with the advanced research capabilities of the participating national labs at every stage of the product development cycle.

“NIST is excited to bring together the tremendous expertise and technical capabilities of the DOE national laboratories with the technical assistance and business development resources of our MEP Centers for the benefit of small- and medium-sized companies,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Dr. Willie E. May. “This pilot will help solve manufacturing challenges and support Department of Commerce goals to have a positive impact on the environment while driving innovation.”

In addition to fulfilling its unique, government-wide responsibilities in policy making and reporting of the impact of federal research, NIST uses its MEP program to accelerate technology transfer from its world-class laboratories to the marketplace. The MITEC program is the next step in a strategy to expand these efforts in support of a sister federal research agency.  

During the initial phase of the pilot, MEP Centers will encourage small businesses in Georgia, Michigan, Ohio, and Virginia that focus on sustainable energy (such as solar power and additive manufacturing) to apply for and create collaborative research, development, and deployment partnerships with the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The program will link up participating companies with existing EERE lab engagement opportunities for small business including the Small Business Vouchers Pilot and the Technologist in Residence program. A recent kick-off meeting at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory supplied MEP staff and select small businesses with an orientation to the EERE programs and the pilot. That meeting will be followed by a series of in-state boot camps to engage with local and regional businesses on industry-relevant manufacturing challenges and ongoing assistance opportunities.

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy accelerates development and deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies that strengthen U.S. energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality. CEMI leads the development of new collaborative manufacturing innovation models and partnership programs in order to build a clean energy innovation infrastructure for American manufacturing, accelerate the growth of clean energy products, and benefit manufacturers at large through advances in energy productivity and efficiency.  View this Energy 101 video to learn more about clean energy manufacturing.

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