Leveraging Funding from The United States Department of Energy

  • By Riley Saeger, BS. ME
    • Jan 04, 2024
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What is the Department of Energy (DOE)?

The United States DOE was established in 1977 during President Jimmy Carter’s administration. Initially, its primary objective revolved around the development and production of nuclear weapons, driven by apprehensions stemming from the Cold War era. However, as the 1990s unfolded, there was a significant shift in goals. The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union, which imposed constraints on the number of nuclear warheads each nation could possess, catalyzed this development.

Considering these changes, the DOE made a commitment to allocate resources toward scientific research in addition to continuing to strengthen national security. This promoted the growth and commercialization of sustainable energy sources within the United States and created an abundance of opportunities for businesses to receive research funding.

Today, the DOE is comprised of 19 program offices, 20 staff offices, 21 laboratories, 4 marketing administrations, and 11 operations offices. A breakdown of the department is shown in Figure 1 below and more information on each entity can be viewed on the DOE’s office webpage.

Figure 1: DOE Org Chart

How can a business leverage DOE grants?

The DOE offers many funding opportunities based on activities related to scientific research. The money generally comes in the form of SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) or STTR (Small Business Technology Transfer) grants. For a project to qualify, it needs to have the potential for commercialization and align with one of the following research areas outlined by the DOE: Energy Production & Use, Fundamental Energy Sciences, Energy Storage & Security, Environmental Management, or Nuclear Defense.

There are three main types of DOE grants:

  • Phase I Grants are provided to explore the feasibility of innovative research concepts. These range from $50,000 – $250,000 and are allocated over six to twelve months.
  • Phase II Grants support research that builds upon the principal R&D effort initiated in Phase I. Phase II grants generally amount to $750,000 and fund research for an additional two years.
  • Phase III Grants are not funded by SBIR/STTR programs. These grants incentivize commercial and government applications of an R&D project.

SBIR/STTR grants are awarded by thirteen different DOE program offices, and examples of recent success stories can be viewed here.

What does the process of finding and applying for grants look like?

When searching for DOE grants, a helpful resource is Grants.gov. The platform allows users to filter current and past opportunities by candidate eligibility, industry category, and agency. Each search provides details such as the opportunity number, opportunity title, agency offering the grant, opportunity status, posting date, and closing date. Figure 2 shows a list of open energy grants offered by the DOE as of August 2023:

Figure 2: August 2023 – Open DOE Energy Grants

To apply for a grant, a company needs to complete multiple steps. The process varies depending on the office solicited for funding and the specific grant application. Generally, it breaks down into the following five phases:


  • This stage typically lasts around one month. Applicants develop concept papers and document their initial project ideas. Organizations typically must submit a Letter of Intent (LOI) and perform the following:
  • Creating an account for the Federal System of Award Management (SAM)
  • Creating a 12-digit Unique Entity Identifier (UEI)
  • Setting up an account with Grants.gov to monitor Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs)
  • Establishing an account with Login.gov to apply for open grant opportunities.

Full Application:

  • Applicants complete a comprehensive grant application. Typically, applications have to be completed within one to two months depending on whether a concept paper is required for the grant. This involves filling out a series of documents, generally including the following:
  • An application for federal assistance (SF-424)
  • A statement of project objectives
  • A budget justification
  • A disclosure of lobbying activities (SF-LLL)
  • A project summary/abstract for public release

Selection Stage:

  • This stage typically takes around three to six months. The office offering the funding will determine which grant applications are selected for awards.

Negotiation Stage:

  • Award recipients can negotiate project funding details with the office providing the grant.

Commencement of Research:

  • The funded research typically begins about a year after the application is submitted.

Where to start?

The Grants & Incentives team at Leyton possesses the experience and technical expertise necessary to assist clients in leveraging DOE funding. We begin by creating a road map for clients that outlines specific grants they can apply for, and which options can provide the most benefit for the business.

After identifying relevant opportunities, we then assist in the preparation of application materials and manage grant deadlines to ensure that clients can submit the necessary documentation in a timely manner.

Reach out to us if you want to learn how our process can help your business improve its financial position through DOE grants. We are eager to discuss potential collaborations with you

Works Cited

About | SBIR.gov. (n.d.). https://www.sbir.gov/about

COURSE 2, TUTORIAL 4 DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY (DOE) https://www.sbir.gov/sites/all/themes/sbir/dawnbreaker/img/documents/Course2- Tutorial4.pdfAccessed 24 Aug. 2023.

Department of Energy, www.energy.gov/. Accessed 19 Aug. 2023.

Science, O. of. (2023, August 18). SBIR about: U.S. doe office of science (SC). SBIR About | U.S. DOE Office of Science (SC). https://science.osti.gov/sbir/About

Science, O. O. (2019, March 11). Phase I and Phase II info. Department of Energy Office of Science. https://science.osti.gov/sbir/About/Phase-I-and-Phase-II-Info

“Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer.” Energy.gov, www.energy.gov/science/sbir/small-business-innovation-research-and-small-business technology-transfer. Accessed 22 Aug. 2023.

Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty of 1991 (U.S. National Park Service). (n.d.). https://www.nps.gov/articles/start-treaty-1991.htm


Riley Saeger, BS. ME

Engineering Consultant

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