ARPA-E SEED Mini-Series Blog Fellows Exploratory Topics

Planting the SEEDs of Fruition

How ARPA-E Funds Small Businesses to Develop High-Risk, High-Reward Energy Technologies

Funding small businesses is a critical component of ARPA-E’s mission to develop high-risk, high-reward energy technologies that could fundamentally change how we generate, store, and use energy. Generally speaking, many of these potentially game-changing technologies are too early-stage to attract private-sector investment. ARPA-E nurtures small businesses and budding entrepreneurs by providing them with funding, subject matter expertise, and commercialization support. ARPA-E’s investment plays a pivotal role in de-risking early-stage energy technologies developed by small businesses to get them ready for future private-sector investment and commercialization opportunities.

ARPA-E launched a flexible, simplified, ongoing funding opportunity for disruptive R&D seedlings in 2019. Known as Exploratory Topics, this opportunity represented a way for ARPA-E to make targeted investments in specific technology areas that could potentially develop into larger focused programs in the future. SEED (Support Entrepreneurial Energy Discoveries) is one such Exploratory Topic geared specifically toward small businesses.

Three project cohorts have been awarded through SEED to date, representing a wide range of energy technologies across ARPA-E’s mission space.

  • Spring 2020: The first cohort of small businesses were funded through SEED for a wide variety of projects, from advanced bioreactors to non-carbothermic smelting technologies.
  • Fall 2021: The second cohort of small businesses were funded through SEED, including everything from controlled communication technologies to permanent carbon sequestration solutions. Technology developed by Nitricity, funded in this second cohort, is already being used on farms in California’s Central Valley to create low-emissions nitrogen fertilizer.
  • Spring 2022: ARPA-E announced a third round of SEED funding for up to $10 million to help small businesses develop game-changing energy technologies with the potential for commercial scalability.

In coordination with this third round of SEED funding, ARPA-E has developed a SEED-focused video mini-series as part of our existing Energy Briefs video series. The SEED mini-series consists of interviews hosted by members of the ARPA-E Fellows Team and leadership from SEED awardees. All videos in the SEED mini-series can be found below. Check back with us as we continue to add more inspiring success stories from the SEED Exploratory Topic!


Frost Methane

In this video, ARPA-E Fellow Dr. Emily Yedinak and Frost Methane's Olya Irzak and Elizabeth Hillstrom discuss Frost Methane's recent grant under ARPA-E's Supporting Entrepreneurial Energy Discoveries (SEED) Exploratory Topic, including how their technology works, what impact it could have, and what it's been like to work with ARPA-E.


EvolOH

In this video, ARPA-E Fellow Dr. Ian Robinson and EvolOH Founder & CEO Dr. Jimmy Rojas discuss EvolOH's recent grant under ARPA-E's Supporting Entrepreneurial Energy Discoveries (SEED) Exploratory Topic, including how their technology works, what impact it could have, and what it's been like to work with ARPA-E.


Ultrasonic Technology Solutions

In this video, ARPA-E Fellow Dr. Emily Yedinak and Dr. Ayyoub Momen, Founder & CEO of Ultrasonic Technology Solutions, discuss their recent grant under ARPA-E's Supporting Entrepreneurial Energy Discoveries (SEED) Exploratory Topic, including how their technology works, what impact it could have, and what it's been like to work with ARPA-E.


Mori (formerly Cambridge Crops)

In this episode, ARPA-E Fellow Dr. Katharine Greco and the team from Mori (formerly Cambridge Crops) discuss their recent grant under ARPA-E's Supporting Entrepreneurial Energy Discoveries (SEED) Exploratory Topic, including how their technology works, what impact it could have, and what it's been like to work with ARPA-E.


Phoenix Tailings

In this video ARPA-E Fellow Dr. Christina Chang interviews three co-founders of Phoenix Tailings - Dr. Tomás Villalón Jr., Michelle Chao, and Anthony Balladon - to learn more about their sustainable re-mining technology.


Heirloom

In this video ARPA-E Fellow Dr. Elizabeth Troein interviews the CEO of Heirloom, Dr. Shashank Samala, to learn more about Heirloom’s novel carbon removal technology.


Sublime Systems

In this video ARPA-E Fellow Dr. Jake Russell interviews the co-founder and CEO of Sublime Systems, Dr. Leah Ellis, to discuss Sublime’s new method of decarbonizing cement production.