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)
In such an arrangement who owns the intellectual property that might arise out of this venture?
What would be nice to understand is how the other agencies that have created similar foundations work. A concern is that another bureaucracy will be created in addition to those… Read more »
To me the greatest need is in understanding, coordinating, and developing standards for demand side management opportunities in the electrical grid. As more intermittent renewables are incorporated into the grid,… Read more »
Creating an RD&D foundation that leverages different kinds of resources to drive cutting edge applied research and commercialization is a solid idea. While programs like DARPA and ARPA focus on… Read more »
The first question asked by Senator Coons and Congressman Lujan really frames why the foundation is so important. Our competitors in other nations are making significant investments across a range… Read more »
Brad, I think your response to the first question was very well put. I hope that EIF would be a more welcome partner to private industry than the federal government.… Read more »
1) What are the potential consequences of continued increases in foreign investment in Energy Sector R&D, relative to the U.S.’s flat investments in recent years? -We lose the economic race on… Read more »
The best way to spur private investment in clean energy technologies is to make dirty energy pay its true cost to society by putting a price on carbon. Regional Economic… Read more »
The comments here provide great examples of the many technological opportunities that lie before us that we must seize in order to accelerate the transition to clean energy. Whether it’s… Read more »
I really enjoyed reading all of the above responses. Each one had great insight. Now what to do? I am suggesting increasing natural gas energy efficiency. America thinks you have… Read more »
Thank you very much for all the input and feedback about this bipartisan, bicameral initiative. We introduced the IMPACT for Energy bill in December 2017 in order to bolster efforts… Read more »
I want to second Senators Coons’ comments thanking all of the participants for all of the tremendous contributions and for taking the time to provide feedback on this proposal. While… Read more »