On March 10, 2016, DOE's BETO announced that $1.9 million has been allocated for biofuel, bioproduct, and biopower projects under its Small Business Vouchers (SBV) Pilot initiative. The grant money is the first of up to $20 million that DOE has agreed to commit to help small businesses receive specialized assistance with their technologies. Under the SBV Pilot, eligible U.S.-owned small businesses with less than 500 employees can request a voucher for use at one of DOE's national laboratories, valued between $50,000 and $300,000. This allows small businesses to take advantage of the technological capability and know-how of DOE labs to help bring clean technologies to market.
The first round of vouchers included two companies working with microbes to convert sugars to valuable biochemicals. Visolis, Inc will work with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) to demonstrate the scale-up potential of their integrated bio-thermochemical conversion technology to produce bio-isoprene from lignocellulosic materials. Lygos will work with NREL and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) to test their fermentation pathway using engineered microbes to produce biobased malonic acid, an important chemical intermediary, at a larger scale. There are three rounds of the SBV Pilot program, with vouchers available for Algal Feedstocks R&D, Analysis and Sustainability, Conversion R&D, and Terrestrial Feedstock Logistics R&D. Applications for the second round of vouchers are being accepted from March 10 through April 10, 2016.