The Seeding Critical Advances for Leading Energy technologies with Untapped Potential 2021 (SCALEUP 2021)
Mandatory Concept paper deadline January 20, 2022 9:30 AM ET
Funding Opportunity Announcement provides a vital mechanism for the support of innovative energy R&D that complements ARPA-E’s primary R&D focus on early-stage transformational energy technologies that still require proof-of-concept. ARPA-E’s mission is to develop transformational energy technologies in support of U.S. national security and economic competitiveness. ARPA-E funds the R&D of technologies to build and maintain U.S. technological leadership in highly competitive global energy markets, thus supporting American jobs and economic growth. ARPA-E’s authorizing statute directs the Agency to develop linkages between its sponsored applied research and the marketplace. These linkages are central to realizing the public’s return on technology investments. An enduring challenge to ARPA-E’s mission is that even technologies that achieve substantial technical advancement under ARPA-E support are at risk of being stranded in their development path once ARPA-E funding ends (averaging $2.5M over three years). ARPA-E-funded technologies typically face significant remaining technical risks upon completion of an award’s funding period. Experience across ARPA-E’s diverse energy portfolios, and with a wide range of investors, indicates that pre-commercial “scaling” projects are critical to establishing that performance and cost parameters can be met in practice for these very early-stage technologies. These pre-commercial scaling projects aim to translate the performance achieved at bench scale to commercially scalable versions of the technology, integrate the technology with broader systems, provide extended performance data, and validate the manufacturability and reliability of new energy technologies. (These projects are often termed “pre-pilot” development in different industries.) Success in these scaling projects would enable industry, investors, and partners to justify substantial commitments of financial resources, personnel, production facilities, and materials to develop promising ARPA-E technologies into early commercial products. The SCALEUP 2021 FOA builds upon ARPA-E-funded technologies by scaling the most promising ARPA-E-funded technologies in their development pathways leaves substantial intellectual property developed with American taxpayer dollars vulnerable to adoption by foreign competitors, who can and do capture it for continued development – and economic benefit – overseas. These scaling energy technology projects will meet ARPA-E’s statutory direction to achieve the above goals by “accelerating transformational technological advances in areas that industry by itself is not likely to undertake because of technical and financial uncertainty”.