Argonne National Laboratory’s launch of a new business incubator in May replicates an 18-month-old entity at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory that has attracted considerable interest from aspiring clean-energy-technology entrepreneurs. Argonne’s program, dubbed Chain Reaction Innovations, and Lawrence Berkeley’s Cyclotron Road aim to provide a small number of energy innovators with access to advanced tools and mentoring to help mature their technologies so they can attract early-stage investors.

Both programs are funded at $3 million by the US Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), and Argonne is kicking in another $1 million for its program. Cyclotron Road, which began as a pilot supported by Lawrence Berkeley, in February chose its second cohort of nine scientists to work on six projects. They join the nine scientists and six projects that got under way in December 2014.

Besides technical assistance, the programs will help mentees develop business plans,...

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