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Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to frequently asked questions about the West Gate program.


West Gate is the newest of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Advanced Manufacturing and Materials Technologies Office Lab-Embedded Entrepreneurship Programs, which connect promising clean energy entrepreneurs with mentors and technology de-risking at select national laboratories across the country. NREL's Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center (IEC) manages West Gate, with support from the Colorado School of Mines.

West Gate applicants participate in a highly competitive and rigorous, multiphased selection process, which IEC runs. IEC reviews all applications, and up to five participants are selected by an official from DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

In each 2-year program cohort, West Gate supports innovators with a stipend, technical assistance funding, tailored entrepreneurial programming, and more. Innovators are expected to gather additional outside funding.

West Gate supports innovators with entrepreneurial mentorship and technology de-risking over a 2-year runway. Through a competitive selection process, West Gate provides up to five selected innovators with:

  • An annual stipend of $115,000 that is directly awarded to an individual and paid on a quarterly basis for up to 2 years
  • Relocation, health care insurance, and travel stipends, which may be available to support relocation if the innovator lives more than 50 miles away from the greater Denver area and to support health care and business travel (for qualifying candidates) on a reimbursement basis
  • 2-year technical assistance funding worth $150,000 redeemable at NREL (These funds are not awarded to the innovator or startup company directly but are redeemed at NREL for technical services and support)
  • Curated, individualized programming
  • Entrepreneurial curriculum, mentorship, and support.


We are looking for talented scientists, engineers, inventors, and founding entrepreneurs with a promising technology they seek to commercialize. See full West Gate eligibility criteria.

Applicants should have a technology concept in at least proof-of-concept stage (Technology Readiness Level 3+) that:

Aligns with and leverages NREL’s research areas

Addresses a large societal need that hinders American competitiveness or energy efficiency

Falls under the program’s mission space, including:

  • Advanced materials
  • Carbon capture and sequestration
  • Carbon dioxide removal
  • Circular economy technologies and systems
  • Energy storage and grid optimization
  • Food, water, and energy nexus
  • Grid sensors
  • Hydrogen and fuel cell technologies
  • Improving manufacturing efficiency
  • Industrial decarbonization
  • Lowering building carbon and energy footprints
  • Offshore land-based and distributed wind energy and energy supply chains
  • Solar energy
  • Quantum computing
  • Offshore land-based and distributed wind energy and energy supply chains
  • Wind energy social and environmental impacts (e.g., quieter wind turbines, repelling avian species so they won’t be harmed by turbines)
  • Other as determined by West Gate and the U.S. Department of Energy.

No. West Gate only considers individual applicants. Company and team applications are not supported. West Gate will only review one applicant per company or team.

No. Applicants should not include any confidential, proprietary, or business-sensitive information in their applications. We do, however, encourage applicants to provide nonproprietary information, technical detail, and data to allow for a quality review by technical and commercial experts.


West Gate leverages subject matter experts at NREL and Colorado School of Mines as well as industry and entrepreneurial experts, program and IEC staff, and the Department of Energy to review applications that advance through the various application stages. Applications will be reviewed from four lenses:

  1. Background as an innovator, including education, technical competency, and experience
  2. Feasibility, novelty, and commercial potential of the proposed technology; hardware technologies are emphasized, and your technology must be aligned with NREL research and development areas
  3. Entrepreneurial potential based on qualities such as being coachable, a risk-taker, and a compelling communicator
  4. Overall program fit and benefit from participation.

NREL employees are welcome to apply to West Gate, but if they are selected and choose to be part of the program, they must terminate their employment with NREL and participate in West Gate through a collaborative appointment award agreement with NREL.

Yes. We encourage applicants who were not selected for a previous cohort to apply again.

Being a West Gate Innovator

Selected innovators leverage and access NREL's world-class expertise and capabilities through technical assistance redeemed through a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA). The program management team will evaluate each selected innovators' technology needs and assist with matchmaking with NREL experts and capabilities.

Once program management has connected innovators to relevant experts, they will work closely with an NREL principal investigator to draft a scope of work to be performed at the lab within the budget set forth by the West Gate technical assistance award. The CRADA is subject to Department of Energy approval. During the CRADA project period, innovators have access to select labs and facilities at NREL to engage in research working closely with the NREL principal investigator.

In general, intellectual property (IP) is handled through a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA), which includes provisions that address background IP and IP developed in connection with the program. The CRADA terms are to be used as is and designed to address the needs of a research collaboration with industry. Specifically:

  • Innovator-owned or licensed IP will be listed as background IP in the CRADA background IP appendix, and NREL will have a research license to work with it.
  • For preexisting NREL background IP, negotiation of a research license or option agreement may be possible by working with the NREL Technology Transfer Office.
  • Each party can elect to title subject inventions created by each party's staff under the CRADA.
  • Joint subject inventions are jointly owned.
  • The CRADA participant is granted an option to negotiate up to a royalty-bearing exclusive license to NREL-subject inventions in the specified field of use.

Contact us for a copy of the standard CRADA or to learn about the CRADA terms and process.

No. West Gate is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, which, as a public-funding entity, provides nondilutive support to selected innovators.

Other Ways To Get Involved

Yes. We are always looking for reviewers and mentors to help with the down-selection process as well as partners to sponsor a specific innovator. Learn more about how to get involved with West Gate.

Yes. Join our mailing list to receive informational emails about West Gate, read West Gate news, or follow us on LinkedIn for program updates.