29 Feb 2012

How to improve energy innovation: 5 recommendations from MIT President Susan Hockfield

Written by Jim Pierobon

At the 2012 ARPA-E’s concluding plenary session this morning, the retiring President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Susan Hockfield, offered five parting shots (my words) to leaders in government, industry, energy research and clean tech financing to solve America’s energy challenges, especially where it involves manufacturing.

1. Industry should partner with researchers and government to create new innovative products that are made in America.

MIT President Susan Hockfield heralded America's return as the world's top funder of clean energy technologies in 2011. CREDIT: MIT

2. Government funding needs to pay a lot more attention to the demands of the marketplace, led by cost-effectiveness. Hockfield credited ARPA-E (Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy) for helping to change the game with its innovation hubs.

3. Use the size and scale of the U.S. government, especially the Department of Defense’s 507 installations, to deploy new technologies that use energy more efficiently and deploy renewable sources wherever possible and practical. (Editor’s note: This IS already happening on a growing scale.)

4. Find ways to drive down the cost of manufacturing, which can reduce the costs of making and using energy. She called cost the “do-or-die gateway” for energy manufacturing breakthroughs.

5. Recognize that the model for venture funding of technology is very different from clean technology funding. Find ways to bridge that gap with a longer-term view.

You can find the her prepared remarks here.

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