TEXAS – The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) announced that it is part of a series of 18 projects funded by the U.S. Department of Energy to promote equity and diversity in clean energy innovation.
The $3.6 million DOE Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize awarded to the projects supports teams of entrepreneurs, community organizers, nonprofit organizations and academic institutions working to achieve energy justice in clean energy.
The United States-Mexico Foundation for Science (USMFS) project, in collaboration with the UTRGV Center for Entrepreneurship and Commercialization, the UTRGV Center for Commercialization and Innovation, I-DREAM4D from the College of Engineering, and TMAC, is called “Solar Utilization and Commercialization Coalition for Energy Efficient Devices.”
The project aims to boost the solar manufacturing industry in Texas and support start-up companies in the sector to create economic potential in the Rio Grande Valley. The funding will support 10 startups.
“Our project is focused on the Lower Rio Grande Valley,” said Jessica Lillie, executive director of the USMFS. “We looked at the demographics and statistics of the region, which is considered economically and historically underserved, making it eligible for this award.”
More than 200 applications were submitted to DOE for the first phase of funding, and the USMFS/UTRGV project was one of 18 selected to receive $200,000 each.
David Ortiz, TMAC director said UTRGV’s CECS will provide assistance with additive equipment and provide the necessary prototypes.
“There is a lot of technical expertise and equipment here at UTRGV, including some metrology (the science of measurement) equipment and laser cutting processes, which is good for prototyping as well,” Ortiz said.
Ortiz, along with Dr. Jianzhi “James” Li, UTRGV professor and interim chair of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, and Dr. Farid Ahmed, MAIE assistant professor, will provide direct support to the project as needed.
The goal is to provide support to entrepreneurs and start-ups who are interested in clean energy and need assistance. Evaluation of applications begins in December, and the program will start in January 2023. There will be six awardees of the second phase who will receive $500,000.