Recently, a bipartisan, bicameral bill, the IMPACT for Energy Act, was introduced to establish a nonprofit foundation that will channel private-sector investments that support the creation, development, and commercialization of innovative technologies that address ongoing energy challenges. Today’s energy challenges are complex. Viable energy solutions involve multiple partners in government, industry, and academia. The pace and scale of these projects require partnerships between public and private entities to negotiate all stages of the innovation pipeline. While Research, Development, Deployment, & Diffusion (RDD&D) has long relied on public-private partnerships, the U.S. has experienced investment changes.
RDD&D is essential for driving innovation and accounts for nearly 7% of real GDP growth. However, recent declines in research funding severely jeopardizes U.S. economic competitiveness. For example, from 2008 to 2013, venture capital funding in energy startups declined by 60% and resulted in a 68% decline in startups. Unlike other sectors, the energy sector has several unique challenges to innovation including high capital needs, long development times, overcoming incumbent technologies, and operating within a shifting regulatory environment.
Addressing these challenges will require partnerships with government, industry, startups, and funding organizations. A foundation would serve as the ideal framework to organize, connect, and lead such a diverse group of partners. Foundations at the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have all demonstrated that they can raise tens of millions of private sector dollars towards cutting-edge research and innovation. These foundations complement and enhance the agency’s mission and enable new functions and services.
As a 501(c)(3), the Foundation established by the IMPACT for Energy Act will have the flexibility to engage with private-sector investments and attract new non-traditional partners. Through this engagement, the Foundation will facilitate public-private partnerships to commercialize research and technology as well as organize events, briefings, and symposia to create a neutral space for partners to collaborate on new projects. Additionally, the Foundation will support education and training of new researchers in energy through awards, grants, and fellowships. This bipartisan bill, based on similar successful models, is the right path for the U.S. The legislation will foster innovation in the energy sector, drive public sector investment, and keep America on the cutting edge of economic and technological developments.
IMPACT for Energy Act cosponsors include Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Representative Joe Wilson (R-SC-2)
Additional House cosponsors include Representatives Daniel Lipinski (D-IL-3), Randy Hultgren (R-IL-14), Tom Reed (R-NY-23) and Eric Swalwell (D-CA-15)