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How manufacturers can tap into the power of the U.S. national laboratories

By Posted on August 9, 2016

Elie Levine
Acting Director, Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative
Department of Energy

Home to some of the world’s most powerful scientific equipment, fastest supercomputers, and talented researchers, the Department of Energy’s national laboratories are science and engineering powerhouses. This system of 17 national labs, representing unique centers of research and innovation for the nation, push the frontiers of scientific knowledge and fuel our advanced energy economy. The scientists working at our national labs are developing game-changing advanced energy innovations:

• New manufacturing techniques that make solar panels more efficient and less costly
• Next generation batteries that are five times faster than current lithium ion batteries
• Advanced materials that are three times as strong and twice as light as the metals used today

In order to stay competitive in the global advanced energy marketplace, U.S. manufacturers must continually innovate. However, small- and medium-sized manufacturers often lack the resources—financial or technical—to invest in research and development. Unfortunately, all too often small businesses don’t have the time to even learn about new technology opportunities that could dramatically improve their business’s bottom line.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Department of Commerce (DOC) are committed to helping small- and medium-sized businesses seize these opportunities. In this spirit, both the DOE and the DOC have joined together to launch the Manufacturing Impacts Through Energy and Commerce (MITEC) pilot program to unleash the power of the national labs and provide small- and medium-sized businesses the tools and expertise they need to succeed.

Piloting this program in a select group of states, including Michigan, the DOE is sponsoring Bootcamp events to enable local advanced energy manufacturers to become aware of, and tap into the vast resources of the national labs so they can boost their manufacturing competitiveness and grow their businesses. Key lab personnel will share advanced energy manufacturing innovation capabilities available through partnerships with Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Speakers will also provide information regarding national funding programs, such as the Small Business Voucher Program (SBV), that are designed to help facilitate lab partnerships. In this program, the DOE has provided up to $20 million worth of vouchers to eligible small- and medium-sized businesses to enable access to lab resources. Through the SBV Pilot, eligible small businesses can tap into the reserve of national laboratory intellectual and technical assets to overcome critical technology and commercialization challenges such as:

  • Prototyping
  • Materials characterization
  • High performance computations
  • Modeling and simulations
  •  Intermediate scaling to generate samples for potential customers
  • Validation of technology performance
  •  Designing new ways to satisfy regulatory compliance

Companies that are U.S.-owned, have 500 employees or less, and are involved in the clean energy industry are eligible for grants from $50,000 to $300,000. The Michigan Energy Office is providing matching funds to partially cover the SBV program’s cost share requirements. The next round of award applications is about to open, so timing is critical. Act now to ensure you have the best chance to access this transformative program.

The demand for advanced energy technology is projected to increase dramatically over the next decade. This presents a great opportunity, and a great challenge. U.S. manufacturers must innovate in order to seize this growing market opportunity – the national labs are here to help!

Attend the MITEC Bootcamp event, September 14, 2016 at NextEnergy in Detroit: For more information on the MITEC Pilot Program visit:

For more information about the DOE’s Small Business Voucher Program visit:

For more information about Michigan’s Small Business Voucher Assistance Project visit: SBV_Cost_Share_Support_-_Full_Announcement_501903_71.pdf

Eli Levine leads the Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative (CEMI) to develop and leverage strategic partnerships to advance U.S. manufacturing. In this role, he is spearheading the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s (EERE) effort to increase U.S. competitiveness in manufacturing clean energy technologies by boosting energy productivity and leveraging low-cost domestic energy resources and feedstocks. He is a graduate of Washington University School of Law and Cornell University.


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