Five new innovators join Chain Reaction Innovations in third cohort

Argonne helps innovators accelerate energy and science tech-to-market

Lemont, IL (April 242019) — Five new innovators will be joining Chain Reaction Innovations (CRI), the entrepreneurship program at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Argonne National Laboratory, as part of the elite program’s third cohort.

The innovators were announced on Earth Day, Monday, April 22.

These innovators were selected following an extensive national solicitation process and two-part pitch competition, with reviews from industry experts, investors, scientists and engineers. More than 120 innovators applied to the program, with the top 11 participating in the Finals Pitch Competition held at Argonne on February 7.

Innovations in energy materials and advanced manufacturing made it to the final round, including those in water sensing and treatment, heat-reflective coatings, hydrogen technologies, energy storage, optical lithography and motor drive electronics. CRI’s Cohort 3 will be embedded at Argonne for two years, beginning in June.

CRI provides an important linkage between the energy ecosystem and the laboratory,” noted CRI Director John Carlisle. ​The innovators have an opportunity to continue developing and de-risking their technologies, while moving their tech closer to market readiness. Their exposure to investors and the energy community meanwhile brings fresh ideas and approaches to the scientists in the lab.”

The five new innovators in CRI Cohort 3 are as follows:

  • Khalid Alam (Northwestern University)
    Freeze-Dried Biosensors for Water Quality and the Energy-Water Nexus
  • Yu Kambe (University of Chicago)
    Direct Optical Lithography of Functional Inorganic Nanomaterials
  • Katie Kollhoff (Northwestern University)
    Water Treatment Sorbents
  • Kevin O’Connor (University of Missouri)
    Dielectric Materials for High Density Capacitive Energy Storage
  • Gary Ong (University of Texas at Austin)
    Nanocomposites for Elevated Temperature Hydrogen Technologies

Argonne unlocks new scientific frontiers that secure the country’s energy future and deliver economic growth,” said Argonne Laboratory Director Paul Kearns.

The innovators leverage these resources: not only our lab facilities, but also our scientists’ knowledge and mentorship as they develop their own technologies. The partnership benefits Argonne, as well as the innovators, who bring their market-facing clean-tech ideas to the table.”

Argonne’s capabilities include three important DOE Office of Science user facilities — the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility, the Center for Nanoscale Materials and the Advanced Photon Source, the nation’s highest-energy X-ray synchrotron for materials characterization. In addition, the laboratory is home to 1,600 scientists and engineers and a variety of other resources, such as the Center for Transportation Research and energy storage leaders ACCESS and the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR).

Applications for CRI’s fourth cohort will open in September 2019.

For more information about Cohort 3 and their projects, go to:

group photo of CRI Cohort 3 innovators with Argonne staff
Chain Reaction Innovations (CRI) staff, Argonne scientists and Argonne Director Paul Kearns welcome CRI Cohort 3 to Argonne National Laboratory on Earth Day, April 22, 2019. (Image by Argonne National Laboratory.)
About Chain Reaction Innovations

Chain Reaction Innovations provides a two-year program for entrepreneurs focusing on energy and science technologies. Selected annually through an application call, the program enables innovators to work on their technology full-time, de-risking their technologies with the help of leading experts and equipment from a national laboratory. Each cohort works to build their innovations into market-ready businesses.  CRI is located at Argonne and supported by area mentors from the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Chicago, mHUB and the Purdue Foundry at Purdue University.

Chain Reaction Innovations is part of the Lab-Embedded Entrepreneurship Programs from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). EEREcreated the Lab-Embedded Entrepreneurship Programs to provide an institutional home for innovative postdoctoral researchers to build their research into products and train to be entrepreneurs. The program is funded by EERE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office.

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy supports early-stage research and development of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies to strengthen U.S. economic growth, energy security, and environmental quality.

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit the Office of Science website.

Latest News

See All
  • Semi-finalists Chosen for CRI's Cohort 8

    Twenty-eight individuals with a wide range of startup technologies were chosen to advance to the semi-finals and compete to join Chain Reaction Innovations’ (CRI) Cohort 8. A broad range of innovations are represented in this year’s applicants, including energy generation and distribution, bioremediation, anti-fouling, mineralization,… Read More

  • Chain Reaction Innovations wins a 2023 Chicago Innovation Award

    Chain Reaction Innovations has been recognized for solving unmet needs, creating jobs and generating new funding in the Chicago metro area. Chain Reaction Innovations, the entrepreneurship program at Argonne National Laboratory, has been recognized with a Chicago Innovation Award. (Image by Chicago Innovation.) Chain… Read More

  • Entrepreneurship program at Argonne opens applications for startups

    Chain Reaction Innovations seeks innovators to join Cohort 8 OCTOBER 26, 2023 Develop your clean energy or climate technology with the support of Argonne National Laboratory’s Chain Reaction Innovations program. Application deadline is 5 p.m. CST, Nov. 30.   Through Chain Reaction Innovations, early-stage… Read More

  • New startups Join Argonne’s Entrepreneurship Program

    Chain Reaction Innovations announces new cohort Clean energy startups embed at Argonne to develop innovative technologies that hold promise for helping mitigate climate change. Four startups joined Chain Reaction Innovations, the entrepreneurship program at Argonne, to develop clean-energy technologies over two years. Four new… Read More

  • Demo Day Showcased Innovators at Four National Labs

    Argonne hosted Demo Day in downtown Chicago, an event celebrating innovation at four laboratory-embedded entrepreneurship programs. Resilience of innovators recognized at gathering of national lab-based technology incubators. Getting an invention or new breakthrough from the laboratory into the broader world requires more than just a… Read More