Nuclear Energy Institute
DOE Nuclear Innovation Partnership GAINs Steam
An initiative begun just over a year ago by the U.S. Department of Energy to help developers of advanced nuclear technology to accelerate innovation and commercialization has reported "significant progress" on the eight projects chosen for voucher awards in 2016. DOE's call for applicants for the 2017 voucher award cycle will close April 10.
DOE's Office of Nuclear Energy launched the Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) initiative in November 2015, to provide private-sector innovators of advanced nuclear technologies with direct access to the technical, regulatory and research capabilities of DOE's national laboratory system.
"Since work on these projects began in September 2016, the GAIN voucher program has shown itself to be successful in fostering relationships between innovative technology developers and DOE laboratory staff, serving the GAIN mission to develop a public-private partnership framework that will enable accelerated commercialization of innovative concepts," GAIN Director Rita Baranwal said.
"DOE and the national laboratory complex have a lot of tools, but the industry does not always necessarily know about them. GAIN helps bridge that gap," says Everett Redmond, the Nuclear Energy Institute's senior technical advisor of new reactor and advanced technology.
"GAIN illustrates how DOE and the national labs are becoming more responsive to the research and development needs of the industry. We're very happy about it, but there's a lot more work to be done," Redmond adds.
In March 2016, GAIN's Nuclear Energy Small Business Voucher pilot program awarded a total of $2 million to eight of 29 applicants, based on the projects' technical quality, potential for commercialization and level of innovation. Individual awards ranged from $50,000 to $300,000, depending on the complexity of the task requested. Voucher recipients were required to provide a 20 percent share of the costs. The financial awards allow research work to be performed on recipients' behalf by staff at designated DOE laboratory facilities, to be completed within 12 months (see table).
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