Guidelines for the Competition
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition (NCEBPC) aims to inspire clean energy innovation across the country by creating businesses from best in-class technology research, while inspiring and cultivating America's next generation of entrepreneurs to drive those businesses forward. Six regional DOE-funded business plan competitions will send a finalist to Washington, D.C. to compete for the Grand Prize in DOE's National Competition.
The guidelines for the Competition are as follows:
Scope of Business Plans
All business plan proposals should fall within DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) mission and technology portfolio, as defined in the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA):
"The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy works to strengthen the United States' energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality in public-private partnerships. It supports this goal through (1) enhancing energy efficiency and productivity; and (2) bringing clean, reliable and affordable energy technologies to the marketplace."
Business plans must fall within EERE's purview, but they may be based upon technical or service-based solutions or products. Acceptable technology areas are represented by EERE's ten program offices:
- Building Technologies
- Advanced Manufacturing
- Vehicle Technologies
- Federal Energy Management Program
- Weatherization and Intergovernmental
- Biomass Program
- Geothermal Technologies
- Fuel Cells Technologies
- Solar Energy Technologies
- Wind and Hydropower Technologies
- All business plan proposals should fall within DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) mission and technology portfolio, as defined in the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA):
Regional Competition Scope
In the Funding Opportunity Announcement, DOE established guidelines that defined the geographical scope of the NCEBPC competitions, while still preserving the integrity of ongoing national competitions:
- Regional competitions may solicit applications nationwide. However, each competition shall focus its outreach and sponsorship efforts regionally. Success or failure to garner regional interest and long-term support may affect continuation applications (go/no-go decisions) at the end of year one.
- Regional competitions are encouraged to communicate and collaborate with other regional organizers in order expand network connections.
- Regional competitions should occur in a coordinated manner and all competitions must be completed by early-May.
Regional Winner Requirements
- Each regional competition must communicate the winner of its DOE-sponsored prize to DOE and all the other regional competitions as soon as possible, but must be communicated prior to subsequent regional competitions or no later than 48 hours after award.
- Each regional competition shall communicate risks and best practices they encountered to DOE and all the other regional competitions.
- The winning businesses must be U.S.-based, but may target customers in foreign markets.
Competition entrant limitations
- Business plan teams may enter multiple regional competitions.
- No regional competition business plan can win more than one DOE-sponsored competition at the regional level (title and money).
Student Eligibility and Participation
As a program whose goals include the development of the next generation of entrepreneurs, NCEBPC requires that students be highly involved in each competition's management and execution. The composition of business plan teams shall follow the following criteria:
- Awarded competitions must include and enforce a criterion for competitor eligibility stating that in order to participate in the proposed regional competition, at least 50% of any participating team's "formal team members" must be actively enrolled in an accredited U.S. university or college. "Formal team members" are defined as those individuals eligible to directly receive prize money or services awarded by the competition.
- Regional competitions should follow university policies of the student applicants to define "enrollment" and "student" status.
- Formal team members may be citizens of foreign countries. However, at least one U.S. citizen must be a formal team member.
- U.S. citizens attending universities abroad may participate in the competitions, given that the overall makeup of the formal team members meets all other criteria.
- Students will be required to present business plans at the regional and the national competitions. Non-student team members must only act as support to the team during presentations.
- Non-student team members may be present on stage to consult with students during Q&A, but students shall respond to all questions.
- Regional organizers should clearly communicate the "Student Eligibility and Participation" rules to the teams prior to the competitions.
DOE promotes openness and transparency by requiring all competition entrants to disclose the status of all intellectual property (IP) used in the competitions:
- Competitions must demonstrate an effort to cultivate and recruit business plans based on technologies derived from U.S. universities and/or national labs.
The following items will be further clarified in the official Terms & Conditions and the IP documents will be provided in template from by the DOE:
- Teams will complete a DOE-provided form to disclose the ownership of the IP associated with the solutions and products they present as part of the business plan competitions.
- Teams will sign a letter of agreement that they will not misrepresent the ownership of or authority to practice any intellectual property required to practice the technology necessary to execute the business plan nor will they disclose any confidential information about said technology.
- Regional organizers must also sign the form to confirm they have reviewed the implications of the letter of agreement with the team.
Stage of Business Development and Ownership
To ensure a level playing field among business plan teams nationwide, all entrants must be early stage venture investments. Teams must meet the following criteria:
- Ventures participating in the competitions may not have equity capital totaling more than $200,000 prior to selection of regional winners.
- Teams are not required to incorporate before entering the competition, but must be incorporated and have an Employer Identification Number (EIN) prior to receiving DOE awards or prizes.
- All formal team members must demonstrate ownership by way of equity in the incorporated entity that emerges from the regional business plan competition.
- Student members of the formal team must have combined minimum equity of 20% of the company.
April 4, 2013 Chicago, IL
April 8-9 2013 Raleigh, NC
April 11-13 2013 Houston, TX
May 7, 2013 Pasadena, CA