energy saving

DOE’s IMPEL innovators secure over $75 million in funding

As carbon emissions from buildings and construction hit record highs, a programme supported by the US Department of Energy (DOE) – IMPEL - has converged a network of researchers, investors, entrepreneurs, and policy experts to ensure that next-generation building decarbonisation technologies achieve wide-scale deployment.  

DOE’s IMPEL innovators secure over $75 million in funding
Courtesy of IMPEL.

“IMPEL is focused on helping early-stage innovators overcome what’s known in the start-up world as the ‘commercialisation valley of death,’ a period between the prototype or pilot phase and the commercial launch phase’” said IMPEL Program Director and DOE Senior Advisor Reshma Singh, who was inspired to start the programme after experiencing her own challenges in bringing clean-tech patents to market. “Our aim is to boost science, sustainability, and business impact.”

In its first three years, IMPEL has supported 165 innovators from 25 states and territories who have together raised over $75 million in funding, created approximately 150 green jobs, and secured over 90 pilots, awards, grants, and prizes. Seventy-five percent are early-stage innovators, and over 50 percent are women and/or people of colour.

IMPEL’s fourth cohort consists of 50 new innovators from across the country, working on innovations in building materials, assemblies, and equipment, as well as data-driven systems to inform, optimise, and control energy and resource usage. Their technologies range from attractive and efficient solar roofing tiles equipped with batteries for energy storage; to hemp-based, fire-resistant cladding for homes in wildfire zones; to modular interiors designed to transform vacant buildings into comfortable, affordable apartments.

When the new cohort convenes this winter, they can look forward to expert coaching, targeted networking, and tech-to-market opportunities with public and private sector partners, including:

Networking with over 100 small businesses, entrepreneurs, national laboratories, and universities within the IMPEL innovation ecosystem

Tech-to-market pipeline opportunities with public and private sector partners, such as Greentown Labs and the DOE

Access to a mentor panel of top investors, entrepreneurs, policy and demonstration experts, and technical experts

Training on DOE’s scientifically validated software tools for estimating the carbon mitigation potential of their building technologies

Pitch development and business seminars coached by Silicon Valley experts focused on developing innovative business-model frameworks

“The nation’s 129 million buildings are responsible for 35 percent of our carbon emissions, and almost 75 percent of our electricity use” added Ram Narayanamurthy, Deputy Director of the Buildings Technology Office and Acting Director of Emerging Technologies. “Improving building efficiency is core to DOE’s strategy to address climate change and reduce energy burdens in disadvantaged communities. DOE views IMPEL as an effective pathway to ensure that important building efficiency technologies reach the market and the communities that need them most. We are proud to support IMPEL in its quest to bring forth innovators in building technologies and accelerate their journey.”

IMPEL innovators have consistently achieved success in advancing energy-efficient buildings after participating in the programme.  

Building on IMPEL’s successes, in January 2023, Berkeley Lab is launching Cradle to Commerce (C2C), a new public-private infrastructure commons, to help discover equitable entrepreneurial teams and accelerate their climate tech commercialisation journeys.

C2C will curate and streamline unprecedented access to scientifically validated intellectual property and testbeds from four national labs, as well as prototyping facilities and industry networks of three private incubators. C2C will serve breakthrough climate technologies spanning smart grids, nuclear energy, sustainable buildings, and renewable energy.

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