By Tim Ryan

Innovation and entrepreneurship serve as the backbone of any thriving economy, and Hampton Roads, Virginia is no exception. With its unique geographic advantages, strong educational institutions, and vibrant community of innovators, the region is ripe for transformative ideas. But even the most revolutionary innovations need resources and guidance to move from concept to commercial reality. That’s where the Department of Energy’s (DOE) new Voucher Program comes in—a potential game-changer for local entrepreneurs and organizations.

DOE’s New Voucher Program
In partnership with the Office of Technology Transitions (OTT), Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations (OCED), Federal Energy Management Program (FECM), and the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE), the DOE has launched a groundbreaking voucher program. With an investment of over $30 million, this program aims to bridge the gap between U.S. entrepreneurs, businesses, local governments, and technology developers with third-party voucher providers.

The program presents five distinct opportunities, ranging from pre-demonstration commercialization support to project siting and permitting. Here’s a brief rundown:

1. Pre-Demonstration Commercialization Support (OCED/EERE): For those in the preliminary stages of their innovation journey.
2. Performance Validation, Modeling, and Certification Support (OCED/EERE): Ideal for those ready to validate their technologies’ performance.
3. Clean Energy Demonstration Project Siting/Permitting Support (OCED/EERE): Support for navigating the often complex siting and permitting landscape.
4. Commercialization Support (EERE): General support to accelerate the commercialization process.
5. Commercialization Support (FECM): Another avenue for facilitating the commercialization of clean energy technologies.

How to Participate
If you’re interested in becoming a voucher provider, the submission window is open until September 26, 2023. For more details on the scope, scale, and intent of the program, an informational webinar will be hosted by EnergyWerx on September 12, 2023. A second submission window for potential voucher recipients will open in October.

What This Means for Hampton Roads
This program holds particular promise for Hampton Roads’ innovators and entrepreneurs, especially those in the clean energy sector. The area’s focus on sustainability and the presence of institutions like [Local University or Research Center], provide fertile ground for clean energy initiatives. This voucher program can be the missing link between innovation and commercial success.

To learn more about the program or to apply as a voucher provider, visit EnergyWerx. For those interested in applying for a voucher, sign up for updates to be notified when the next submission window opens.

The DOE’s Voucher Program is a milestone in the roadmap toward a more sustainable and innovative future. For the innovators and entrepreneurs of Hampton Roads, this program represents not just an opportunity but a call to action. The resources are there; it’s time to seize them and innovate for a brighter, cleaner future.