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Bay Area National Laboratories Jointly Launch New Small Business Voucher Pilot for Emerging Cleantech Companies

Berkeley Lab, partnering with Sandia and Lawrence Livermore National Labs, awarded $4.15 million by Department of Energy to work with small businesses.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), in partnership with Sandia National Laboratories/California (SNL/CA) and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), has been awarded $4.15 million by the Department of Energy (DOE) to jointly launch a new small business voucher pilot.

“Our pilot, which we’ve named LabSTAR, unites three national labs—Berkeley, Sandia, and Livermore—to serve as a Bay Area ecosystem for providing access to the unique assets of the national lab system, such as basic science, prototyping, analysis, supercomputers, accelerators, and more,” said Alecia Ward, LabSTAR program lead and also head of program and business development for Berkeley Lab’s Energy Technologies Area.

The Molecular Foundry is a U.S. Department of Energy nanoscience center hosted at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

The Molecular Foundry is a U.S. Department of Energy nanoscience center hosted at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and could be used for collaborative research through the Small Business Voucher Pilot.

The funding is part of DOE’s $20 million investment in small business assistance, which is one component of its National Lab Impact Initiative. This initiative seeks to significantly increase the industrial impact of DOE national labs on the U.S. clean energy sector. LabSTAR, with Berkeley Lab serving as the lead, was awarded the pilot for applications in four sectors: battery technologies, fuel cell technologies, geothermal technologies, and advanced manufacturing, which could cover any technology.

“LabSTAR will create opportunities for the national labs to share their unique assets with small businesses, who can leverage our expertise in geothermal technologies, transportation energy, materials science and other fields to create innovative clean energy solutions,” said Carrie Burchard, business development manager at SNL/CA.

Small businesses, defined as a company with fewer than 500 employees, will be able to apply for up to $300,000 in vouchers for work at one of the three national labs. A successful application will require a 20 percent cost share. “They could apply to do research with a particular scientist or use a certain facility, such as the High Performance Computing Innovation Center at Livermore, Sandia’s Combustion Research Facility, or the Molecular Foundry at Berkeley Lab for nanoscale research,” said Ward. “We expect dozens of small businesses will be able to benefit from this program in its first two years.”

“LabSTAR pulls together a consortium of national labs located in the Bay Area that marry cutting-edge science and technology with a regional ecosystem that promotes small business success,” said Rich Rankin, director of LLNL’s Industrial Partnerships Office. “The Lab is excited about the potential this collaboration offers to connect us to the small business community.”

LabSTAR also includes an unprecedented level of support from a diverse range of state, local, and regional partners, as well as startup incubators like Cleantech Open and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and business organizations like the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

“We especially have strong support from incubators in California, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Georgia, Texas, and Hawaii,” Ward said. “The purpose of these partnerships is to reach as many small and emerging technology businesses as possible and to have as strong an applicant pool as possible.”

Berkeley Lab’s participation in the small business voucher pilot is only the latest of several initiatives undertaken by Lab Director Paul Alivisatos to transform Berkeley Lab into a more market-facing laboratory by connecting basic research with applied sciences. In the last couple years, Berkeley Lab has also launched CalCharge, a public-private partnership for the energy storage industry, and Cyclotron Road, an early-stage energy technology incubation program.

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Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory addresses the world’s most urgent scientific challenges by advancing sustainable energy, protecting human health, creating new materials, and revealing the origin and fate of the universe. Founded in 1931, Berkeley Lab’s scientific expertise has been recognized with 13 Nobel prizes. The University of California manages Berkeley Lab for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. For more, visit www.lbl.gov.

The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.

Founded in 1952, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (www.llnl.gov) provides solutions to our nation’s most important national security challenges through innovative science, engineering and technology. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is managed by Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.

Sandia National Laboratories is a multi-program laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corp., for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies and economic competitiveness.

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