AIM Onshore: Promoting Energy Technology Innovation and Manufacturing

On February 6th, 2018 the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) took the initiative to open the American Inventions Made Onshore (AIM Onshore) prize competition. The opening of the AIM Onshore prize competition is coupled with the DOE’s Build4Scale manufacturing training, which provides innovators the tools they need to identify and address manufacturing challenges when working to develop new energy innovations. Both of the initiatives were created to build a stronger bond between American innovators who develop new energy technologies and the U.S. manufacturers who will inevitably produce them.

“Onshore manufacturing of American energy technologies plays an important role in promoting U.S. economic growth and competitiveness,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry. “The AIM Onshore prize competition and Build4Scale training will not only help to advance energy innovation but will also help ensure that energy technologies invented in the United States are manufactured in the United States.

Scientists, researchers and engineers in the United States make incredible breakthroughs in energy technologies every day but often times these individuals don’t have access to the manufacturing expertise to bring their innovations to life. The AIM Onshore selected specific organizations, educational institutions and individuals to teach them the fundamentals they need to bring their energy technology innovations to life. Furthermore, one of AIM Onshores primary goals is to help these individuals and institutions forge partnerships with domestic manufacturers.

The DOE set aside $950,000 to fund this incredible initiative. Four organizations will win AIM Onshore’s initial prize of $150,000 each. Each of the four prize-winning organizations will be tasked with delivering Build4Scale training to help energy innovators connect with manufacturers. Providing them with the manufacturing fundamentals to avoid the common issues associated with the early stages of product design. The training was developed by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). Having access to this kind of information can be the first step in dramatically increasing the rate at which energy innovations reach the commercial world.

The organizations selected are evaluated in a number of different ways. Hard metrics, past contracts developed between innovators and U.S. manufacturers and the funds will be unlocked by private stakeholders.

Only AIM Onshore’s highest performers will continue to be funded beyond the inactive prize money. After one year the final prize will be handed to the two most accomplished organizations. $250,000 for the first place winner and $100,000 will be awarded to second place. The goal is the use this small initial federal investment from the DOE to jumpstart sustainable private sector funding.

It will be some time before the results of AIM Onshore will become clear however it’s an important step in the right direction. As the energy industry continues to advance and the world calls for an increase in green and sustainable energy, the work done by these organizations and innovators will only become more important. Manufacturing Talk Radio will be watching AIM Onshore closely and sharing any announcements coming out of the initiative.