Feds Cleantech Patents Challenge Starting

Earlier this month we covered the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) announcement about a new challenge that reads like a government sponsored reality TV show. In fact, the challenge actually targets entrepreneurs and start-up companies to pick up on one of the DOE’s over 15,000 unlicensed patents through a streamlined and heavily discounted program. The DOE now reports that the challenge is about to launch, answering some pre-launch questions about the process.

The Next Top Innovator challenge is the DOE’s way of trying to get some of the 15,000 patents that national laboratories have developed off the ground and on the fast track to implementation. By stripping the application process of some paperwork and establishing a flat application fee of $1k, the DOE hopes that some of the nation’s entrepreneurs and innovators will jump at the opportunity and, as Chu put it, “unleash America’s innovation machine and win the global race for the clean energy jobs of the future.” Based on the DOE’s indication of heavy response, America’s scientific talent is ready to go.

image via SolarWorld

The challenge officially kicks off on May 2. On that date, the DOE will open up a simplified online patent application  that prompts applicants to indicate which of the  available technologies they are interested in developing and submit a business plan for consideration. The deadline for applications is set for December 15, 2011. The discounted $1,000 fee covers up to three patent licensing applications. The most promising of the approved applicants will be given the opportunity to showcase their technology and developments at the 3rd Annual ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit in 2012.