The Industry Collaboration and Innovation Program aims at forming a national and international partnership network to speed center results to practical application. It is also a research consortium providing additional support to the center to leverage NSF investment in research and education.
Industry Partners participate in the Center at three levels: affiliate, associate and full. To date, 51 companies have joined the Center. The companies range from electric utilities, equipment manufacturer and start-up renewable energy companies. The FREEDM Systems Center will cultivate active collaboration among researchers in universities, industry, and national laboratories.
Innovation Partners include venture capital firms, technology incubators, business advisors and consultants engaged in commercializing technologies for renewable energy.
All industry partners can take advantage of:
- Leveraged research funding of over $10 million per year.
- Early access to ERC inventions protected on a fast-track basis by an Intellectual Property Protection Fund (IPPF) covered by industry membership fees, providing up to $10,000 toward patenting each selected center invention. Selected inventions may be generated at any partner university through NSF-funded core research funds or industry member fees.
- Industry Practitioner Program: R&D employees in member companies as well as non-member companies are encouraged to work on ERC research project teams and jointly own patents to their ERC inventions.
- Priority Access to ERC Students and Graduates: Member companies may work with ERC student researchers as interns to identify and hire our best graduates.
- NCSU's Technology Evaluation and Commercialization Program: Student or consultant teams will evaluate ERC inventions to assess technology time to market. Evaluations will provide a foundation for licensing and business planning decisions.
- Professional Short Courses: Members will have free or discounted access to all newly developed ERC on-site and distance education short courses on topics such as renewable energy systems, power electronics, or applications in power grid technology.
Entrepreneurial companies can take advantage of the ERC's network of Innovation Partners:
- Venture Capital Firms: Several venture capital firms have committed to affiliation with the ERC, providing entrepreneurial companies opportunities for advice, traditional venture funding, grants, and loans.
- SBIR/STTR Support: Small Business Technology Development Centers (SBTDCs) in each partner state will help small business members exploit federal SBIR/STTR funding through customized training workshops and advising for SBIR/STTR proposal teams.
- SBIR/STTR Matching Funds: Members who receive SBIR/STTR awards may submit requests to NC Board of Science and Technology's SBIR/STTR Matching Funds program, which matches 100% of Phase I awards (to max of $100,000) to bridge gap between the Phase I and Phase II, making small businesses more competitive for Phase II funding.
- Technology Incubators: Office and laboratory space (subject to availability) for ERC spin-off companies in technology incubators on the partner university campuses, in addition to short-term consulting by technical, academic, managerial and business professionals.