Argonne National Laboratory

Argonne opens call for second cohort of Chain Reaction Innovations

September 6, 2017

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory announced the opening of applications for innovators to join the second cohort of Chain Reaction Innovations (CRI), a novel entrepreneurial training program that goes beyond a traditional incubator or accelerator.

The program provides promising post-doctoral innovators access to the technical tools only found at a national laboratory, up to $100,000 in annual salary and up to $220,000 in research funds, plus world-leading mentoring partners. Those partners include the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and the Purdue Foundry at the University of Purdue. This helps innovators to understand how to bridge the gap between benchtop ideas and the marketplace.

“The entrepreneurs in the first cohort of the Advanced Manufacturing Office’s Chain Reaction Innovations have created strong partnerships with scientists and engineers at Argonne” - John Carlisle, CRI director.

Chain Reaction Innovations is one of the Department of Energy’s Lab-Embedded Entrepreneurship Programs, launched by the Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) in the DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Office.

The program embeds top technical talent at Argonne to perform early-stage research and development (R&D) that may launch energy or manufacturing businesses in the future. The Lab-Embedded Entrepreneurship Programs address critical gaps in human capital development by providing stipends and cutting-edge workspace where talented scientific innovators can become first-time entrepreneurs.

“The entrepreneurs in the first cohort of the Advanced Manufacturing Office’s Chain Reaction Innovations have created strong partnerships with scientists and engineers at Argonne,” said John Carlisle, CRI director. “They are also seeing interest in their technologies from companies and investors. We hope the second cohort will have an even greater impact on the regional innovation ecosystem.”

In its first eight months, several companies in the first cohort of Chain Reaction Innovations have secured early wins.

  • ClearFlame Engines won a $225,000 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). ClearFlame Engines is developing drop-in engine technology to allow diesel generators and heavy-duty vehicles to run on biofuel without a loss of power.
     
  • FGC Plasma Solutions signed an agreement with Capstone Turbines to test FGC’s plasma-assisted fuel injection technology in a C65 micro turbine. The technology enables more optimum operation of the engines at low speeds as well as benefits from lower emissions, increased fuel flexibility and improved reliability.
     
  • Emergy has an agreement with a company to test its bio-designed activated carbon. With double the surface area and a potential 25-percent increase in efficiency compared to traditional carbons, Emergy’s tunable technology could reduce expenses related to metal recovery by up to 25 percent.
     
  • Atlas Energy Systems has joint proposals with a handful of companies on multiple SBIRs to develop a prototype of its radioisotope nuclear battery. The Atlas technology could be 80 times cheaper than traditional nuclear batteries and has three times the energy conversion power.

To see and hear how the program is helping the first cohort of innovators grow their technology, watch this video. Then apply to join the second cohort during the application process Sept. 5 through Oct. 13. Also, sign up to join an information webinar and Q&A on Sept. 13.

Chain Reaction Innovations is a two-year entrepreneurial research program for innovators focusing on energy and manufacturing technologies. These innovators will have a Ph.D. or equivalent experience working with physical-science based technologies. At Argonne, the innovators receive access to world-leading R&D tools and facilities, as well as scientific and engineering expertise and business mentorship. The innovators also have access to the greater-Chicago business and research ecosystem as well as that of surrounding states which includes numerous manufacturing hubs, Fortune 500 companies, incubators and accelerators, premier research universities and investors.

The entrepreneurs inject fresh ideas and innovative approaches to our national laboratories. By leveraging the unique strengths and capabilities of the host national laboratory and the surrounding regional innovation ecosystem, Lab-Embedded Entrepreneurship Programs are ensuring that federal investments in early-stage R&D advance American technological innovation and competitiveness while contributing to regional economic development.

The Department of Energy plans to select up to six postdoctoral innovators to join Chain Reaction Innovations. Applicants may apply to this merit-based opportunity either indirectly or as a team of individuals. However, successful applicants are selected based on their individual merits. View the solicitation and submission instructions to apply.  

DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy supports early-stage research and development of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies that make energy more affordable and strengthen the reliability, resilience, and security of the U.S. electric grid.

EERE's Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) supports early-stage applied research & development of new materials, information, and processes that improve American manufacturing’s energy efficiency, as well as platform technologies for manufacturing clean energy products.

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation's first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America's scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.

The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit the Office of Science website.