Steven Chu, the U.S. Energy Secretary, announced the “America’s Next Top Energy Innovator” program, which will make possible for start-up companies to license technologies developed by the National Laboratories for $1,000 and build successful businesses. As part of this program, the Department is reducing both the cost and paperwork requirements for start-up companies to obtain an option agreement to license some of the 15,000 patents and patent applications held by 17 National Laboratories.
The program highlights:
- On May 2, 2011, the DOE will post a streamlined template option agreement online for entrepreneurs to submit to Laboratories. Entrepreneurs must identify the technology of interest and submit a business plan to be considered for the program. Participants will have until December 15 to make their submission to the Laboratory.
- Any of the 15,000 unlicensed patents and patent applications held by the National Laboratories will be available for licensing by startup companies
From May 2 to December 15, the Department will reduce the total upfront cost of licensing DOE patents in a specific technology to a $1,000 upfront fee for portfolios of up to three patents. This represents a savings of $10,000 to $50,000 on average in upfront fees.
- Other license terms, such as equity and royalties, will be negotiated on a case by case basis and will typically be due once the company grows and achieves widescale commercial success. These fees help support the Department’s continuing research activities to develop new technologies.
- The Department will simplify the licensing process and establish a standard set of terms for start-ups, who generally lack the resources, time or expertise to negotiate individual licensing agreements. This will significantly reduce both the time and cost required to process the license, allowing faster access to the Department’s patents and enabling the Department to process more licenses in a shorter amount of time.
- Entrepreneurs who complete the process and demonstrate progress toward executing their business plan and commercializing the technology will have the opportunity to be showcased at the 3rd Annual ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit in 2012, which brings together leading technology startups and clean energy investors from around the country.