DOE’s Office of Technology Transitions Launches EnergyTech University Prize Geared Toward Students

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Office of Technology Transitions (OTT) has announced, today, the launch of the OTT-sponsored EnergyTech University Prize (EnergyTech UP), designed to further energy technology commercialization by challenging multidisciplinary teams of college students to develop and present a business plan that leverages DOE national laboratory-developed and other high-potential energy technologies.

EnergyTech UP awards $250,000 in total cash prizes to teams that navigate a three-phase process, which includes successfully identifying an energy technology (“Explore”), assessing its market potential (“Refine”), and proposing a strategy for commercialization (“Pitch”). The top teams will compete for a share of $100,000 in prizes funded by OTT. In addition, six DOE Technology Offices are offering up to $25,000 each in bonus prizes for the best teams in their respective fields. The six offices include: the Geothermal Technologies Office, Solar Energy Technologies Office, Office of Nuclear Energy, Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management, Building Technologies Office, and the Water Power Technologies Office.

“This is an exciting time for energy technology. The EnergyTech University Prize will engage our collegiate population and accelerate these technologies to market where they can generate real impact,” said Deputy Secretary of Energy David Turk, who also kicked off the prize launch with a video message to participants.

EnergyTech UP is distinct from other startup competitions in its design to be approachable, equitable, and scalable nationwide. Targeting undergraduate students with- or without a background in energy or business, the competition provides the resources needed for teams to succeed and selects winners based on the strength of their proposal, not the strength of their background. Students are encouraged to explore national lab-developed technologies on the OTT Lab Partnering Service.

Participating teams will present their projects in January 2022 at the regional event closest to their institution. Regional winners will then be granted exclusive DOE mentorship and access to OTT’s Energy I-Corps curriculum, a tool that will help each team refine their ideas. Finally, the regional winners pitch their complete business plan at Carnegie Mellon University’s (CMU’s) Energy Week, hosted by CMU’s Scott Institute in March 2022.

“We at OTT are thrilled to fund such a promising program that fits perfectly within our critical mission and so directly points toward energy technology commercialization,” said Vanessa Chan, Chief Commercialization Officer for DOE and Director of OTT. “EnergyTech UP has the power to tap into America’s brilliant young minds, corral their ideas, and accelerate this country’s transition to a clean energy future.”

OTT was established in 2015 to expand the commercial impact of the research investments of the DOE. This charge enables OTT to develop a connective foundation of support across the DOE Applied Offices, National Laboratories and the private sector, which includes a new approach for managing DOE’s research, development, demonstration and deployment (RDD&D) portfolio. OTT serves as the steward of DOE’s RDD&D continuum and develops programs and initiatives that aid technologies in their progression to commercialization – starting with research into an innovative idea and ending with commercial scale deployment.

If you’re interested in learning more about EnergyTech UP and how to participate, attend the informational webinar on Wednesday, Oct. 20, at 3 p.m. ET. Register here.

OTT’s EnergyTech UP is partnering with DOE’s American-Made Challenges prize platform, offering a new opportunity to the prize community. A virtual information session for the EnergyTech Up Prize will be hosted by OTT in October 2021. Additional information regarding the event is forthcoming. Learn more and register a team to compete.

The announcement from the Office of Technology Transitions can be found here.

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