These are tough days for anyone hoping to commercialize an energy venture, as the federal government looks to slash research funding, and venture capitalists mostly sidestep the sector.
One refuge for energy entrepreneurs is Cyclotron Road, a cross between a fellowship program and startup incubator at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, established to help turn early science into viable companies.
The program, funded by the Department of Energy, is announcing 10 new members on Wednesday.
They provide researchers with a stipend for two years, as well as access to Berkeley Lab equipment and ongoing mentoring.
The federal budget dedicated to research has declined for decades, as have corporate investments in research.
Cyclotron Road founder Ilan Gur, whose own battery startup was backed by Khosla Ventures and acquired by Bosch, said the program offers promising energy researchers the additional time they need to develop their technology before looking for funding-and dealing with all the constraints that come with it.
“We’re not giving them a job. At the end of the two years, we kick them out,” says Gur, previously a program director at the DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy.