Sen. Coons introduces bipartisan bill to open national labs to small businesses

U.S. Sen. Chris Coons today joined a bipartisan group of legislators to introduce a bill allowing small businesses to access national lab facilities.

The goal of the bill is to help innovative small businesses and startups overcome the cost barriers of buying expensive equipment and lab space.

Designed as a voucher program, the bill would open labs to small businesses to conduct feasibility studies and test new technologies using on-site equipment and expertise.

The Department of Energy first tested out the model with a voucher program offering limited access to its labs and discount prices on professional assistance.

“Small businesses are at the forefront of creating innovative solutions to the problems that face our nation,” Coons said. “Often, small businesses need access to unique facilities and resources to succeed in developing truly groundbreaking products. This bill provides businesses with access to world-class facilities and experts to help strengthen the ecosystem of small businesses innovation in the U.S.”

The Promoting Small Business Innovation through Partnerships with National Labs Act was introduced in both the Senate and the House.

More details from the bill’s one-page, via Sen. Coons:

1. Technology commercialization. The bill promotes partnerships that will directly support technology
commercialization at small businesses through development, demonstration, and commercial application
activities.

2. Contracting mechanism. The bill instructs the Secretary of the DOE to develop an expedited contracting
mechanism to streamline the approval process for applications, ensuring that businesses receive vouchers in
a timely manner to help accelerate product delivery to market.

3. Authorization. The bill authorizes $25,000,000 for the entire DOE small business advocacy effort in order
to accommodate the broader scope of the effort.

4. Cost-sharing. The bill requires participating small businesses to provide a cost share, as per existing DOE
guidelines, to en

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