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Leading Experts Talk Energy Innovation

Across the political spectrum, policymakers are advocating for innovation to meet growing energy demand and reduce the risks of climate change. But energy innovation means different things to different people, which can both inhibit progress as firms vie for limited resources and accelerate breakthroughs as competition pushes the best products and ideas to succeed. Energy innovation unfolds across several stages with many players, each marked by distinct advantages and challenges.

>>>READ: Shattering Barriers to Address Environmental Challenges

Recently we hosted a webinar with experts across various sectors to explain the role that the private sector, federal investment, and public policy play in unleashing innovation. The panel included Michael Bruce, a partner at Emerson Collective, where he manages the energy and environment venture investment portfolio; Rick Stockburger, the President & CEO at BRITE Energy Innovators, an energy incubator that accelerates energy technologies in Northeast Ohio; and David Solan an expert in residence at BRITE Energy Innovators. Solan served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Renewable Power at the Department of Energy where he directed renewable energy applied research, development, and demonstration activities in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

In the continuum of a research project in a laboratory to a commercially viable product, there are usually many steps along the way. Disruptive technologies that improve and raise levels of prosperity and human well-being can seemingly be in our lives overnight, but often what is unseen is the years of brainstorming, trial and error, incubation, and seed funding. 

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The United States is an energy powerhouse, and the development of promising new technologies provides even greater opportunities for human flourishing and a cleaner environment. There are abundant opportunities to create jobs and restore America’s competitive advantage for energy innovation. Critically, innovation is stunted by numerous regulatory, political, and market obstacles. Policy and regulatory uncertainty loom large in the minds of entrepreneurs. 

>>>READ: New Report Details How Reorganizing the Department of Energy Will Accelerate Innovation

Public spending on energy innovation faces similar challenges. The Department of Energy has significantly increased spending on applied research, demonstration, and commercialization activities, but bureaucratic inefficiencies stall progress and waste precious taxpayer resources. 

If you missed the conversation, you can watch it here.

The views and opinions expressed are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of C3.

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