Cyclotron Road began as 'M37'...
Cyclotron Road was launched as a pilot program codenamed 'M37' at Berkeley Lab in July 2014 to address the gap between early-stage energy technologies and impactful commercial outcomes. The vision was simple: provide a home for entrepreneurial technologists whose ideas are too challenging to pursue in a venture-backed startup, specifically in “hard tech” areas like advanced materials, chemistry, and physics. For the pilot, Berkeley Lab would provide these innovators with funding, mentorship, network support, and access to critical national lab resources. The goal: achieve focused technology development objectives within a discrete time period.
Under three weeks from standstill launch of the program website and a post in GigaOm, the response was striking: 15000 page-views, nearly 5000 unique visitors, and over 150 interested applicants from across the country and around the world. The demand in the community was clear.
A rigorous process was used to select projects. Applications were down-selected and reviewed by experts from industry and academia to determine a short-list of top candidates. The Cyclotron Road team then conducted phone interviews with each of these candidates to evaluate their individual and project merit, as well as their fit for the program. Ten finalists were selected and gave in-person pitches for a committee composed of Berkeley Lab leadership, technical experts, investors, and entrepreneurs. The committee unanimously selected six projects to include in the first cohort.
Berkeley Lab scientists were engaged throughout the application review and interview process to identify and seed collaboration opportunities for selected projects. As a result, each of our projects has a dedicated and supportive champion within one of the research areas at the Lab.