The fast pace and dynamic nature of both business and technology present a host of challenges for project officers working in EERE’s financial assistance portfolio. Often, these challenges require project officers to dive in and apply their creativity, technical expertise, and knowledge of federal regulations to keep projects on track.
A Concentrated Solar Power advanced heat transfer fluid project was the only research and development project of its kind in EERE’s Solar Program portfolio. Yet, despite promising early results, the recipient announced that they were closing their research division and the corresponding staff would be laid off. Therefore, the project would not go beyond the first phase.
In support of continuation of the research, the project officer worked with the financial assistance recipient to transfer the award to a newly-formed company, which would continue the valuable research effort. Then they engaged the new and original recipients and several EERE legal and procurement teams to negotiate the transfer of the requisite equipment and documentation of the Phase 1 research.
Rate agreements, cost share contributions and timelines for the new recipient had to be evaluated and approved. Equally important, the project team poured over the new firm’s technical and financial materials and conducted site visits to confirm that the new recipient was ready and able to perform the research activities.
Several months into the new configuration, the new recipient has hired several members of the original research team, as well as two college interns. Since the award was transferred, they have filed for a U.S. patent, presented their work at a recent solar conference, and are engaged in discussions with several companies interested in their research. And their work is being recognized as worthy of a Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Science Foundation to expand their research topics for a wider range of applications. Proactive oversight can lead to innovative technology development.