ARPA-E Continues Work to Scale High-Risk, High-Potential Transformational Energy Technologies by Unveiling Third SCALEUP Program
ARPA-E recently announced the much-anticipated third round of its SCALEUP program. SCALEUP is designed to competitively select and support the commercial “scale up” of promising technologies from ARPA-E’s portfolio of projects, past and present. With the recent announcement of SCALEUP 2023, ARPA-E is building upon the success of the two prior SCALEUP programs launched in 2019 and 2021.
Through extensive interaction with stakeholders and performers, ARPA-E realized there was a need to further support technologies from earlier programs to help them fill a critical gap in order to accelerate deployment. The goal was to help transformational technologies avoid getting stranded in what is known as the “valley of death.” In this case, promising companies are often at risk, receiving no or inadequate funding from investors due to remaining technical and financial uncertainty. However, ARPA-E views these situations as “mountains of opportunity,” which is why the Agency believes it is critical to support companies and to position them for future public and private investment. As a result, these factors led to the initiation of the SCALEUP program and the schematic below illustrates where the program fits between early-stage R&D and later stage, public/private funding.
This support is essential for companies to take their products and services from lab scale to commercial viability. SCALEUP helps companies de-risk their technologies so that they attract more investment and grow out their customer base, while validating the capabilities of their technologies at scale. Ultimately, the goal of the SCALEUP program is to enable technologies to transition to the next level of commercialization.
A key part of SCALEUP is small business, company, and industry participation. Below are the three core elements that are required of project teams:
- Projects must focus on scaling-up transformative technologies that ARPA-E has previously funded and which would substantially build upon the innovations achieved under an original award;
- Applicants must own/control IP (patents, subject inventions, software, etc.) arising from ARPA-E awards; and
- Applicants must include commercial partners, such as potential customers, end-users, suppliers, etc.
SCALEUP Portfolio at a Glance
To date, between the 2019 and 2021 cohort, ARPA-E has awarded 17 projects with more than $167M in federal funds. The portfolio below illustrates the breadth of sectors SCALEUP is currently supporting. SCALEUP teams are developing technologies that span a range of industries from energy storage to aviation, power electronics, grid integration, and more. Additionally, through the SCALEUP’s U.S. manufacturing requirements, ARPA-E is preventing valuable IP funded by U.S. tax dollars from falling vulnerable to adoption by foreign competitors, ultimately supporting a strong domestic supply chain.
The SCALEUP portfolio consists of projects from ARPA-E programs and are impactful across the broader energy landscape.
Core attributes of a competitive SCALEUP project include demonstration of technical merit and project feasibility, a clear commercial strategy, and a strong team with proven experience and capabilities to scale. Featured below are a few SCALEUP performers, from both the 2019 and 2021 cohorts, that exemplify the qualities and characteristics of a SCALEUP project.
SCALEUP 2021 performer CorePower Magnetics is establishing a pilot line to produce the first scaled domestic manufacturing of high-power density electronic components based on permeability engineered soft magnetics. Following technical development during the ARPA-E ADEPT project by Carnegie Mellon University, CorePower will use this funding to scale its compact and efficient next generation magnetic solutions for electric vehicles (EVs), EV charging, and the grid. Additionally, the company intends to establish its Pittsburgh headquarters as the manufacturing hub, contributing to industry growth in the area. Throughout their SCALEUP project, CorePower will work with commercialization partners, including John Deere and Eaton, to develop inductor and transformer products to aid a wide range of applications.
“CorePower Magnetics is grateful for the transformative support we have received through the ARPA-E SCALEUP program. This funding is instrumental in propelling our magnetification efforts forward, enabling us to establish a pilot line and develop initial standard product offerings that are crucial in meeting the evolving demands of our customers in the EV, EV charging, and grid markets.” –Sam Kernion, CEO, CorePower Magnetics.
The CorePower team at the 2023 ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit.
Ampaire, another SCALEUP 2021 performer, is commercializing its hybrid electric aircraft platform. The company is utilizing their flight-ready aircraft testbed, created during the ARPA-E CIRCUITS program, to develop and validate components that will be commercially certified. The company recently achieved the longest flight leg ever of a hybrid electric aircraft, spanning over 1,000 miles. Ampaire’s SCALEUP project focuses on performance, safety, and functionality testing of the company’s powertrain controller, fully electric motor drive, and battery-based energy storage system.
The goal is FAA certification leading to incorporation of these components in Ampaire’s hybrid aircraft system. In turn, this will enable potential savings of over 50% on fuel and emissions for the company’s target 9-passenger hybrid electric Caravan aircraft.
“ARPA-E's SCALEUP program stands out because it is 100% aligned with bridging key commercialization gaps in our go-to-market business plan for electrified aviation. Ampaire has been able to leverage SCALEUP to accelerate addressing key risks to commercializing and certifying electrified propulsion aviation, providing essential validation to airline customers and potential investors.” –Dr. Ed Lovelace, Chief Technology Officer, Ampaire.
The ARPA-E Bird testbed was originally developed by Ampaire during their ARPA-E CIRCUITS Project which will continue to be utilized in their SCALEUP project.
Lastly, from the 2019 SCALEUP cohort, Bridger Photonics. Through the ARPA-E MONITOR and SCALEUP programs, Bridger has developed the next generation of methane leak detection and quantification, Gas Mapping LiDAR™. This innovative technology is transformational for emissions reduction in the oil and gas industry, scanning infrastructure to detect, locate, and quantify methane leaks throughout the entire natural gas value chain. Bridger uses a proprietary laser-based measurement system that is attached to the underside of an aircraft to scan hundreds of oil and gas sites a day, streamlining the methane mitigation process with the most sensitive aerial leak detection technology available.
Bridger’s Gas Mapping LiDAR™ sensor can attach to the underside of an aircraft (left) to scan oil & gas infrastructure for methane leaks (right).
“The SCALEUP program is allowing Bridger to establish systems and processes that can withstand the massive scaling we’re experiencing from strong market demand for actionable methane detection and quantification in the oil and gas industry. Since the start of Bridger’s SCALEUP program, Bridger has scaled revenue ten-fold and achieved profitability.” –Pete Roos, President, and CEO, Bridger Photonics
ARPA-E is excited to continue growing the SCALEUP portfolio and advancing impactful technologies and encourages all eligible teams to consider applying to be a part of the SCALEUP 2023 cohort!
Listed below are several additional resources on the SCALEUP Program:
- SCALEUP 2023 FOA
- SCALEUP 2023 Press Release
- SCALEUP 2023 Teaming Partner List
- ARPA-E SCALEUP Website
- ARPA-E SCALEUP 2023 Website
- ARPA-E T2M Website
- 2023 ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit: Scaling Up with SCALEUP
- Going "All In" on Methane Emissions: Gas Mapping LiDAR with Bridger Photonics
- Scaling Up: Advancing Battery Technology from the Lab to the Market with Natron Energy