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  • Writer's pictureKristin Cooper

DOE Seeks Public Feedback on Removing Barriers to Participation in Funding Programs

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is releasing a request for information (RFI) to understand the current barriers and actions needed to make its funding opportunities and innovation and entrepreneurship activities more inclusive, just, and equitable, in line with the Administration’s climate goals.

“DOE is committed to developing funding opportunities that diversify the applicant pool and reach more first-time applicants,” said Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Kelly Speakes-Backman. “We are eager to hear from first-time applicants and a wider variety of voices. To ensure that all Americans benefit from DOE’s work, it is urgent that diversity is reflected in the funding applications we receive and fund. We know climate change disproportionally affects underserved communities, so it is also critical that we partner with these communities when developing climate solutions.”

To address the challenge of climate change, the Biden Administration has set ambitious goals including achieving a 50-52% reduction from 2005 levels in economy-wide net greenhouse gas pollution by 2030 and reaching net zero emissions economy-wide by no later than 2050. Achieving these goals will require accelerating the deployment of climate and energy technologies through innovative solutions, with environmental and climate justice as key considerations. The Biden Administration’s Justice40 initiative aims to deliver 40% of the overall benefits of relevant federal investments in climate and energy to disadvantaged communities.

This RFI is intended to inform DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity (ED) on enabling an inclusive and just entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem for climate and energy technology research. An innovation ecosystem consists of the government agencies, non-profit organizations, academic institutions, and private sector companies that effectively work together to enable innovators and entrepreneurs, leading to economic growth.

The responses to the RFI will help DOE understand barriers to entry to its funding opportunities, current resources and support for innovation and entrepreneurial activities, experiences of those who have received funding or assistance, and resources and approaches that DOE can provide and implement towards removing these barriers. DOE is particularly interested in hearing from environmental justice organizations; community-based organizations; state, local, and tribal governments; entrepreneurs; small businesses; incubators and accelerators; and researchers and innovators who experience location-based difficulties in accessing resources. Other respondents with relevant insight—regardless of whether they have experience applying to government funding opportunities—are also encouraged to respond.

Based on the responses to this RFI, DOE may release funding opportunities, assistance for grant application support services, incubation and acceleration services for entrepreneurship, and/or develop other measures to support a just and inclusive innovation ecosystem. This RFI includes five categories:

  • Category 1: Increasing Access to and Awareness of DOE Funding through Effective Outreach, Engagement, and Application Support

  • Category 2: Barriers to Applying for and Receiving Funding from DOE

  • Category 3: Support for an Innovation Ecosystem and Place-Based Innovation

  • Category 4: Regional and Local Barriers to DOE Funding

  • Category 5: Barriers to Performing within the DOE Funding System

Responses are due August 6, 2021 by 5:00 p.m. ET.

View the full RFI here.

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