Case study: BioLEC 2

The Opportunity: A large-scale funding opportunity from the U.S. Department of Energy for Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRC), which focus on research into clean energy technologies and low-carbon manufacturing.

The Stakeholders: Distinguished researchers and chemists at Princeton University led by Greg Scholes, Paul Chirik, Rob Knowles, and David MacMillan. Partnering institutions included the Natural Renewable Energy Laboratory, MIT, Cornell, Brookhaven National Laboratory, and others.

The Challenge: A limited-submission funding opportunity that was a renewal request for funding, but had to stand completely on its own merits—internally and within the entire national pool of highly competitive applicants.

The Process: Long before the anticipated call was even released, our Research Development staff worked closely with BioLEC assistant director Victoria Cleave to review: prior submission documents, reports and project materials, and materials from the Department of Energy. Once the RFP was released, they strategized approaches to new proposal requirements and emphases, including those related to diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as management plans. 

The Outcome: BioLEC was awarded a second round of funding, as BioLEC-2, with an award of $12.6 million in funding over four years. As part of a DOE press release, U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm said, “The research projects announced today will strengthen the scientific foundations needed for the United States to maintain world leadership in clean energy innovation, from renewable power to carbon management.” BioLEC-2 Principal Investigator Greg Scholes says he is “proud because this renewal evidences the impact and success of what we have done, which reflects scientific advances impossible if any of us were working as a single PI.”