Energy I-Corps supports teams of researchers and industry mentors for an intensive two-month training program where the researchers define technology value propositions, conduct customer discovery interviews, and develop viable market pathways for their technologies. Researchers return to the lab with a framework for industry engagement to guide future research and inform a culture of market awareness within the labs.
Applicants apply to Energy I-Corps as a team, composed of a Principal Investigator (PI) with a commercially relevant technology, an Entrepreneurial Lead (EL), and an Industry Mentor (IM). Click here for the scope of activities. Over the course of the training, teams identify potential market pathways for their selected technology, as well as identify opportunities where further development could lead to commercial value.
The training program spans approximately 8–10 weeks, utilizing a custom-designed curriculum built on the Lean LaunchPad methodology. During these two months, teams attend in-person/virtual sessions, participate in weekly webinars, and learn from one-on-ones with instructors to systematically identify the most appropriate market application and commercialization pathway for their technology. Participation also requires a considerable amount of time spent outside of the classroom conducting customer discovery interviews.
Up to $75,000 of funding is provided per team to cover time and expenses to participate in the 8-10-week training program. Full proposals are due on Dec. 3, and team selections will be made the first week in January. Up to 14 teams will be selected to participate in Cohort 14, which is scheduled to run from March 10 through May 19, 2022.
For the first time, DOE’s Office of Technology Transitions will be awarding a $25,000 prize to the team that delivers the most compelling final presentation, as judged by the instructors and external judges. The funding will be directed to the winners’ labs to further fund commercialization activities.
Although DOE is not requiring a letter of intent or pre-proposal, DOE is requiring an Initial Eligibility Review by Fermilab’s Office of Partnerships and Technology Transfer (OPTT) before a researcher can submit a proposal. OPTT will also help coach eligible applicants through the application process, especially those who have not previously attended one of the Entrepreneurship and Commercialization Practicums at Fermilab (or equivalent “lite” programs).