WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced the selection of five projects to develop “innovation ecosystems” that will accelerate the movement of cutting-edge energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies from university laboratories into the market. This is the first time that DOE is funding this type of university-based commercialization effort. It will foster collaborative environments, bringing together key players from universities, the private sector, the federal government, and DOE national laboratories to identify and develop new technologies and help them succeed in the marketplace. The projects will receive a total of $5.3 million in federal funding over three years, which will be leveraged with grantee investments to support $9 million in total projects.

For one project, the University of Central Florida will hold the “MegaWatt Ventures” event, incorporating a technical showcase with a business plan competition and business and prototyping services. Teams will tap into the intellectual property portfolios and research expertise held by Florida universities. Each year, 10 teams will be awarded $10,000 each and will be given six months to complete a prototype and assemble a start-up team. The 10 teams will then compete for a $100,000 prize, with the aim of providing an incentive for commercializing the university-developed technologies. In its third year, MegaWatt Ventures will be expanded to include all universities in the southeastern United States.

Similar projects will be led by the Clean Energy Trust of Chicago for Illinois scientists and entrepreneurs; by the Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems of Cambridge, Mass., for university-originated technologies across New England; by the University of California, San Diego, which will hold an annual Regional Energy Innovation Challenge; and by the University of Utah, which will create the Energy Innovation Commercialization Center for participating Western universities and research institutions.

For more information on DOE’s commercialization efforts, visit www1.eere.energy.gov/commercialization.

Publication date:10/11/2010