Chain Reaction Innovation Expands

By Argonne National Laboratory

Chain Reaction Innovations (CRI), the entrepreneurship program that embeds innovators for two years at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Argonne National Laboratory, is expanding and will now be accepting applications in any technology area that can be accelerated to market by leveraging the vast resources available at Argonne National Laboratory. Previously applications were limited to technologies specifically related to advanced manufacturing. 

The CRI program supports the next generation of energy entrepreneurs moving their energy innovations to market, choosing members of each new cohort with an annual call for applications. The application period for CRI’s fourth cohort will be open September 17 – 5:00 p.m./Central, October 31, 2019. 

“Basically, we’re opening this year’s call to encourage applications from anyone who feels Argonne can help them de-risk their technologies more efficiently than can be accomplished in the private sector,” said Dr. Adria Wilson, CRI’s Entrepreneurial Program Lead.  This follows a number of successful outcomes from CRI first graduating cohort of innovators. To date, CRI startups have raised more than $12.5 million in funding and created over 60 jobs, while working with world-class scientists and resources at Argonne.

Examples of new technologies areas that are synergistic with Argonne strengths include innovations related to electrification of the economy (smart grid, grid reliability and residency, and mobility), nanotechnology, advanced materials, water-energy nexus, and advanced simulation to support the optimization of a variety of technologies. 

“Argonne has a long history of expertise in advanced materials, catalysis, transportation and also in nanotech, and is also actively developing new strengths in edge computing, big data, quantum computing, etc. We’re interested in getting applications from innovators working in all these spaces,” said CRI Director Dr. John Carlisle.

Currently CRI is supported by the Advanced Manufacturing Office of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Advanced Manufacturing Office. CRI will begin accepting applications September 17 and will close the solicitation on October 31. Semi-finalists for Cohort 4 will be selected in early January 2020; finalists will present their technologies at a pitch competition held at Argonne in early February. The new cohort will join the program from June 2020 – May 2022. 

CRI will host a series of three informational webinars in August, September, and October for interested applicants to learn more about the program and the availability of resources at Argonne that can potentially accelerate the development of their technologies. If selected, innovators will receive support including salary, benefits, travel, and $220,000 in support of technical work at Argonne. CRI also provides innovators with mentors in the Chicago energy ecosystem, including the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Chicago; mHUB, the innovation center for physical product development and manufacturing; and others. More information about applying to the program can be found at 

Chain Reaction Innovations provides innovators with the laboratory tools, seed capital, and collaborators needed to grow their early-stage technologies to enable them to attract the long-term capital and commercial partners needed to scale and launch into the marketplace. CRI is part of the Lab-Embedded Entrepreneurship Programs from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). EERE created the Lab-Embedded Entrepreneurship Programs to provide an institutional home for innovative postdoctoral researchers to build their research into products and train to be entrepreneurs. The two-year program for each innovator is funded by EERE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO).

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy supports early-stage research and development of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies to strengthen U.S. economic growth, energy security, and environmental quality.