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Faster commercialization of energy technology targeted

John Seelmeyer

A newly announced collaboration between the Nevada Institute for Renewable Energy Commercialization and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is designed to speed the transition of laboratory research into commercial products.

NIREC, headquartered at Incline Village, said last week it will provide its “Entrepreneur in Residence” program to help a research team at the national laboratory, which is operated by the U.S. Department of Energy.

While the research team that will participate hasn’t been selected yet, the choice will be based heavily on work that finds a solution to a problem identified by private-sector executives in the renewable energy arena.

“We are going to take a market focus in the selection,” said Li Han Chan, NIREC’s director of operations. “We hope to solve a Nevada technological problem.”

The Entrepreneur in Residence program matches research teams with entrepreneurs, industry partners and private-sector funding sources that can help bring work out of laboratories into the private sector.

During the year-long process, researchers and their entrepreneurial guides create a structured plan for commercializing the technology.

That’s not a new concept to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Since 1990, technologies developed at the Berkeley Lab have formed the basis for 30 startup companies that created nearly 2,400 jobs.

“But commercializing clean energy technology is extremely challenging,” Chan said.

The pilot program launched last week, she said, is unusual in the role that the needs of the market will play in the identification of promising research.

And Chan said NIREC expects the collaboration with the Berkeley Lab will provide a road map for bridging the gap between the needs of industry and the research under way in the national laboratories.

Pamela Seidenman, business development manager at Berkeley Lab, said the lab expects use of the NIREC entrepreneurial program will bring clean energy innovations to the market more quickly.

NIREC is a nonprofit that’s funded by the Department of Energy, Nevada’s system of higher education, the University of California, Davis, and private-sector sources.

SIDEBAR

The NIREC road map

A new white paper developed by the Nevada Institute for Renewable Energy Commercialization takes a look at the ever-shifting needs of technology commercialization and details NIREC’s technology-pull approach.

The paper, “A Dynamic Ecosystem Approach to Renewable Energy Commercialization,” is available for download at http://www.nirec.org/aiche.html.