Call for Collaboration

DISCOVR Consortium Call for Collaboration: Information and Instructions

To accelerate the development and implementation of algae technologies that will foster the growth of the bioeconomy and facilitate the realization of cost effective algae biofuels and bioproducts, the DOE’s Development of Integrated Screening, Cultivar Optimization, and Verification Research (DISCOVR) team is releasing a rolling Call for Collaboration. The purpose of this Call is to solicit ideas, strains, tools, and techniques to help achieve BETO’s aggressive technical and economic targets for algae bioenergy production.

The DISCOVR project has two main areas of focus: 

  1. Developing and implementing a strain selection pipeline as a standardized and validated strain characterization process that evaluates algae strains with respect to their potential as future algae biomass/biofuels/bioproducts production strains. 
  2. Facilitating the execution of DOE-EERE Bioenergy Technologies Office’s (BETO) annual Algae State of Technology SOT Campaigns experimental support effort, which involves demonstrating progress towards outyear biomass productivity goals as outlined by BETO 

We recognize that the algae industry and research communities are also continuously developing new strains and cultivation methods, which are important for driving progress of the field as a whole. Thus, the goal of this Call for Collaboration is to offer an opportunity for DISCOVR and the algae community to work together to incorporate the best algae strains, operational/cultivation strategies, and crop protection strategies into DISCOVR and/or the SOT experimental plan. This effort will permit a standardized comparison of new strain performance in the DISCOVR pipeline, and most importantly, it will help to ensure that the SOT reflects the ‘best of the best’ (the true State of Technology) of the algae field.

To Apply

First, email and state your interest or intent to apply. This will result in a call with the DISCOVR team to discuss your concept in general and to match you with a National Lab Liaison, who will help guide you through the proposal writing process.

Teams are encouraged to submit a short proposal that addresses the technical challenges, approaches, and impacts to the missions of the State of Technology effort in DOE-BETO’s Algae Program Area. For example, this could be a proposal summarizing why a strain of interest should be included in the DISCOVR pipeline for characterization and ultimately could become a top candidate for outdoor deployment. All submissions should be no more than four pages in length and follow the below outline:

  • Project overview and background and justification on how this proposed work will help ‘move the needle’ on standardized production demonstration for algae cultivation
  • Identification of the season anticipated to be best for the strain/technology
  • Challenges addressed and research approach
    • For the DISCOVR pipeline, describe the strain to be submitted to the pipeline
    • For the SOT, describe the proposed testing protocol and parameters
  • Identification of risks and risk mitigation strategies
  • Impact and benefit to BETO, the external partner, and the algae biofuels/bioproducts community
  • Key personnel
  • Milestone and appropriateness of use of government funds

Topics of interest are focused on increasing annualized algae biomass productivity to a target of 20.4 g/m2/day, or 30 ton/acre annual average over 330 days of cultivation by 2023, with the ultimate aim of reducing the cost of algae biomass/ton. However, additional topics may be considered beyond those listed below:

  • Algae strains of interest that have demonstrated high productivities and/or robustness outdoors and have the potential to advance the Algae State of Technology.  We are especially interested in halotolerant strains that grow well at the salinities of brackish water or above. 
  • Approaches/strains that optimize both biomass production and biochemical composition during cultivation.
  • Pond operational strategies (harvesting regime, media composition, CO2 delivery systems) that have the potential to increase algae biomass productivity.
  • Crop protection strategies, methods, and technologies, including prophylactic and interdictive treatments, which increase pond cultivation reliability and therefore annualized biomass production. Proposed strategies can be either broad-spectrum or pest-specific. 

Topics not of interest at this time include:

  • Photobioreactor-based cultivation
  • Mixotrophic cultivation
  • Wastewater treatment
  • Genetically modified strains or
  • Cultivation/co-cultivation of deleterious organisms.

No DOE funds will be awarded to the external partner as part of this Call for Collaboration. Instead, if a proposal is selected, the DISCOVR team will work the proposed strain or cultivation/crop protection approach into their tasks and budget for the next appropriate season. Thus, the proposed work will be executed by the National Labs as part of the DISCOVR consortium, using funds provided directly to the National Labs, in consultation and with appropriate acknowledgment to the partner.

To be considered, submitting organizations must certify that they will adhere to the following:

  • Data Share: Commit to granting BETO and the DISCOVR team rights to outputs and outcomes of supported research (i.e. technology, strains, etc.), including the use of cultivation data in the Algae State of Technology report, which is shared with DOE and consortium partners.
    • NOTE: Strain identification and some operational strategies may remain anonymous or be attributed to the partner, per the respective agreements made after proposal selection.
  • Cost Share: There will not be a formal cost share requirement; however, there will be an expectation that the selected proposal teams will communicate with the DISCOVR team and help guide the testing/implementation of their strain/technology without new funds from BETO.
  • Agreements: Sign relevant MTAs and NDAs to outline the boundaries of strain and information sharing.
  • Release of Information: Agree to work with the respective communication teams to develop public release materials for non-proprietary information about your business and the success of the effort to be featured in publicly available stories by DOE and the Labs.


The proposal template and detailed criteria for this opportunity are available.


Each section of this template is aligned with specific review criteria for DISCOVR collaborations. Proposals should be no more than four pages in length. Proposals should be emailed to: Proposals will be collected and reviewed on a quarterly basis (January, March, July, October).  Thus it will be useful for the proposal to anticipate the lead time for projects to begin in the desired growing season (at least 3 months will be required to allow for ‘onboarding’ of new strains or new cultivation configuration or infrastructure to be installed).