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ARPA-E to award up to $50M to scale up high-risk ARPA-E funded technologies

The US DOE’s ARPA-E issued a funding opportunity announcement () for up to $50 million in funding for a new program, Seeding Critical Advances for Leading Energy technologies with Untapped Potential (SCALEUP). The SCALEUP program aims to support the scaling of high-risk and potentially disruptive ARPA-E funded technologies across the full spectrum of energy applications.

An enduring challenge to ARPA-E’s mission is that even technologies that achieve substantial technical advancement under ARPA-E support are at risk of being stranded in their development path once ARPA-E funding ends (averaging $2.5 million over three years). ARPA-E-funded technologies typically face significant remaining technical risks upon completion of an award’s funding period.

Experience across ARPA-E’s diverse energy portfolios, and with a wide range of investors, indicates that pre-commercial “scaling” projects are critical to establishing that performance and cost parameters can be met in practice for these very early stage technologies.

These pre-commercial scaling projects aim to translate the performance achieved at bench scale to commercially scalable versions of the technology, integrate the technology with broader systems, provide extended performance data, and validate the manufacturability and reliability of new energy technologies. (These projects are often termed “pre-pilot” development in different industries.)

Success in these scaling projects would enable industry, investors, and partners to justify substantial commitments of financial resources, personnel, production facilities, and materials to develop promising ARPA-E technologies into early commercial products.

Start-ups, as well as large and small businesses, leveraging subject inventions that have resulted from ARPA-E awards are eligible and encouraged to apply to the SCALEUP FOA.

Because of the breadth of energy technologies solicited under the SCALEUP FOA, technical and project targets are not specified. Therefore, ARPA-E asks Applicants to address how the proposed scale-up or pre-pilot project will sufficiently advance the technology to enable a path to market and ultimately lead to realized commercial impact.

Finalists selected for the SCALEUP award will demonstrate a path to viability and be well positioned for investment from the private sector (venture, strategic, philanthropic, internal, etc.).

The SCALEUP program will work to advance promising energy technologies that require scale-up or pre-pilot projects to enable a path to market and ultimately lead to realized commercial impact. The SCALEUP award selection process consists of three phases:

  1. preliminary application submissions, resulting in selection of semi-finalists;

  2. semi-finalists who will be invited to submit full applications, resulting in selection of finalists; and

  3. finalists, who will be invited to provide oral presentations, leading to award selections.

In addition, to support eligible start-ups and small businesses, the SCALEUP FOA offers an optional fixed-amount of up to $150,000 for the development of internal frameworks and infrastructure needed for SCALEUP projects.

The deadline to submit a preliminary application is 9:30 a.m. ET on 14 February 2020.


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