The Clean Energy Alliance (CEA) and the Department of Energy (DOE) have formed the Department of Energy Small Business and Clean Energy Alliance Partnership, supported by an American Resource and Recovery Act grant of approximately $1.2 million. Through the members of CEA, the Partnership is providing mentoring and commercialization services to cleantech companies that have received federal support such as SBIR and STTR grants.

CEA member incubators provide a complete range of services to U.S. small businesses that are developing and pursuing the commercialization of clean energy technologies. Companies desiring to participate in the DOE/CEA Partnership program can benefit from the expertise and capabilities of any member that is appropriate to meet the needs of the companies. Careful consideration is given to the company’s technology, technical and commercial status and needs, and geography. The cost of the support services provided by the CEA member incubator to the company is borne entirely by the DOE/CEA Partnership.

To date, on a completely voluntary basis, more than 20 companies have been matched with CEA member incubators, and many have begun to receive significant benefits from these relationships. There is still budget and schedule headroom to increase the number of company participants before the program ends at the end of 2012.

After up to one year of the incubation/mentoring relationship, the results will be evaluated for evidence of the small business having made progress toward commercialization. A wrap-up conference in late 2012 will present the findings and offer qualifying companies the opportunity to make presentations to panels of interested investors.


1.   Q – What is the Department of Energy Small Business and Clean Energy Alliance Partnership?
A – Formed in late 2010, the Partnership was organized to answer the question: “Is incubator mentoring and commercialization advice an effective mechanism for supporting the commercialization of technologies that have received federal support?”

2.   Q – What incubators are involved and what companies are being supported?
A – The incubators (incubator/mentors) are members of the Clean Energy Alliance; qualifying companies (startup/mentees) are those identified by DOE or by other means that have received federal support and whose objectives are consistent with the DOE/EERE goals.

3.   Q – What does the agreement between the incubator/mentor and the company or startup/mentee need to include?
A – The incubator/mentor and the startup/mentee should come to an agreement that is consistent with the normal business practices of the incubator/mentor. It should include language reflecting the procedures that are required by the DOE-CEA Partnership, such as: (a) a statement of work (SOW) that identifies the expected start and end dates of the mentoring program; (b) an anticipated budget for the mentoring program; (c) objectives for the services; (d) how services will be documented; (e)how results will be measured; and (f) procedures for invoicing and payment of the incubator/mentor by the DOE-CEA Partnership.

4.   Q – What is the process for approval?
A – All startup/mentees interested in participating must complete a simple application and submit it to James F. Groelinger, Executive Director of CEA, for review. For companies that have received federal support but are not on the DOE-generated database of companies used by CEA as the basis for its outreach program, the application will be reviewed for consistency with DOE’s mission and goals for clean energy technology commercialization. After approval, the company/mentee will be introduced to a CEA incubator/mentor to establish the relationship and terms for the mentoring and commercialization support.

5.   Q – Do startup/mentees receive any direct payments from the DOE-CEA Partnership?
A – No. All payments made pursuant to the DOE/CEA Partnership program are made to the incubator/mentor for the mentoring and commercialization support services provided by it to the startup/mentee. The startup/mentee receives no payments from the Partnership. Start-up/mentees, however, would have received some form of federal support in order to qualify for the Partnership.

6.   Q – Exactly how does the payment process work?
A –       (i) Upon receipt of a satisfactory invoice from an incubator/mentor, which can be submitted monthly, CEA includes such amount in its next invoice submitted to the US Department of Energy with respect to the DOE/CEA Partnership.
(ii) Upon receipt of a payment from the DOE that includes the amount of the incubator/mentor invoice, CEA makes payment to the incubator/mentor in like amount month by a pre-agreed payment method (check or ACH transfer).
(iii) All parties understand that the CEA has no liability for any payments to the incubator/mentor except to the extent CEA receives appropriate funds from the DOE.

7.   Q – What kinds of expenditures require prior approval:
A –Once a incubator/mentor-startup/mentee relationship and program has been approved to participate in the DOE/CEA Partnership, there are no additional expenditure approval requirements.

8.   Q – What are the reporting requirements?
A –       (i) For the incubator/mentor, monthly and event-related progress and/or problem reports should be made (a) via email or telephone to the CEA Executive Director; and (b) by telephone on a monthly basis to Dawnbreaker, which is responsible for independent monitoring and program assessment for DOE.
(ii) For the startup/mentee, event-related progress or problem reports should be made (a) by email or telephone to the CEA Executive Director; and (b) by telephone to Dawnbreaker at the beginning, end, and subsequent 6, 12, and 18 month points.

For additional information, please contact CEA Executive Director Jim Groelinger, at [email protected].