Frequently Asked Questions

Typically, IMPEL Innovators are earlier stage (Technology Readiness Levels 3-6), pre-revenue entrepreneurs and researchers or professionals with pre-commercial technologies, or pre-market programs. However, others with great ideas are also encouraged to apply. This page answers Innovators' most frequently asked questions.

Who is eligible for IMPEL?

IMPEL offers unique pitch-training workshops to innovators working in the design, construction, and operations of buildings, or the building-to-grid space such as building-integrated renewables, electric vehicles, and energy storage. Eligible applicants include:

  1. Entrepreneurs and small businesses working in the built environment space such as engineering, architecture, urban design, facilities and real estate, healthy buildings, energy services, microgrids, data science etc.,

  2. National Lab staff who conduct buildings and energy research,

  3. Non-Lab Awardees who have won Federal Opportunity Announcement Awards, Small Business Awards etc.,

  4. Faculty and Graduate Students conducting building science research and development, or from BTO-affiliated university programs such as Solar Decathlon, JUMP into STEM, and others,

  5. Buildings Professionals, Fellows, and Staff with new buildings innovation program ideas.

What type of projects should I bring to the IMPEL Workshops?

  1. Hardware Products: Building materials, assembly, sensors, controls, energy equipment, microgrid components

  2. Software Products: Building information and construction management, energy data, building-to-grid optimization tools

  3. Services: Design, modeling, construction, consulting, training

  4. Systems & Solutions: Hardware + software + consulting

  5. Programs & Policies: Residential building programs, energy efficiency programs, healthy buildings programs

What do I need to be ready for IMPEL?

First, knowledge and enthusiasm about your building technology or project.

Second, a specific project you want to take to impact. This is the “Why” of why you should participate.

Essentially, you the applicant can select a project of your choice, for instance a tool (software)/ or technology (hardware)/patent to develop and refine your pitch about. The project that you propose is not restricted to BTO-funded projects – it may be funded by another entity, as long as the technology is in the buildings space. Additionally, the project may be at various technology readiness levels (TRL) such as an idea, or bench-tested material, beta-tested prototype, as long as it is at a point in its lifecycle that IMPEL could have a value to the innovator and a potential future application in industry.

You may also bring a policy or program idea you want to pitch to a decision-maker.

What can I gain from the IMPEL program?

Whether you are an entrepreneur or small business, national lab, public sector or non-profit staff, if you have an idea for the design, construction or management of built environment and infrastructure, do apply to the IMPEL program. You will gain pitch training at the minimum, and also a network of high-quality innovators specifically in your domain area. High-performing innovators will also receive acceleration, incubation, nd pitching opportunities at wide exposure events.

IMPEL is a three-tier program:

  • Tier 1: Selected applicants invited to one intense, daylong workshop with expert IMPEL Coaches to learn: How do you pitch? How do you roadmap? How do you develop a unique, compelling value proposition?

  • Tier 2: High-performing IMPEL Innovators invited to office hours with the IMPEL director, Reshma Singh to discuss progress and identify potential pipeline opportunities.

  • Tier 3: Up to five Innovators selected for each of two pipelines and provided further learning engagements for their buildings and buildings-edge projects. These Innovators also receive additional one-on-one office hours with the coaches before they are impelled into the two pipelines:

Public Sector Pipelines: Five IMPEL Innovators will be selected to pitch to public sector leaders at the IMPEL national showcases hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy and partner agencies.

Private Sector Pipelines: Five IMPEL Innovators will be selected to gain fully-funded access to national pitch events organized by IMPEL's two partner Incubators, the Austin Technology Incubator (ATI) and Greentown Labs. Further, three Innovators will be provided spots in the ATI’s summer accelerator, Student Entrepreneur Acceleration and Launch (SEAL).

See testimonials from Innovators who have been through the IMPEL program.

What will not be covered in the IMPEL workshops ?

The workshop will not cover how to write research grants, conduct R&D, or hone lab skills. The workshop will expect that participants have done some pre-work on roadmapping, identifying their target audience, etc. Information on pre-work will be provided.

Who are the coaches?

Read about IMPEL 2020-2021 Expert Coaches on the Team page.

What does the workshop cost?

There is no fee to attend; the workshops are hosted by DOE BTO’s IMPEL program. All you have to do is to arrange for your own time to attend that day and pre-review the Resource Toolkit materials.

Upon completing the one-day IMPEL workshop, selected Innovators are eligible for office hours with an expert coach to be used to refine their pitch presentation for the IMPEL Showcase Event at the BTO Peer Review.

How much work and time commitment is required?

Innovators should plan for one day of attending the workshop and any travel time. There will be minimal but mandatory pre-work expected to be 2-4 hours that entails reviewing recommended readings and videos. You can choose to spend more time on additional pre-work on your pitch prior to the workshop.