SOURCE: Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

November 16, 2010 08:00 ET

Acceleration of U.S. Energy Sector Requires Reform at Every Stage of the Innovation Pipeline, According to Kauffman Report

Recent Summits Underscore Roles of Government Policy, Small Business and Public-Private Partnerships to Increase and Sustain Clean Energy Innovation

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwire - November 16, 2010) - To become a global competitor in the burgeoning clean energy industry, the United States must reform policies and practices all along the innovation pipeline, from research and development to deployment and adoption. That's according to a report from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation released today at the Global Cleantech Open, which was held as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week.

The report, "A Clean Energy Roadmap: Forging the Path Ahead," is based on outcomes of three clean energy summits, which the Kauffman Foundation co-convened earlier this year to explore how industry participants might better collaborate to propel economic development and job creation by boosting energy-sector entrepreneurship and innovation. The report also encompasses results of an intensive review of more than 20 scientific articles and interviews with 15 of the United States' top clean energy entrepreneurs.

"While the clean energy sector has tremendous growth potential, it can progress only if federal and state governments are willing to establish policies that will encourage commercialization and scale of energy innovation," said Lesa Mitchell, vice president of Advancing Innovation, Kauffman Foundation. "Further, everyone in the energy sector -- including private corporations, nonprofits, philanthropic foundations, service organizations and academia -- have a role to play. With government, they must jointly address challenges, generate new ideas and support clean energy researchers to establish and sustain the United States' position as a global clean energy innovator."

The report identifies five major policy strategies to accelerate the scaling of U.S. clean energy businesses:

  • Foster interstate cooperation, ensuring consistent state-to-state policies that will stimulate the deployment of energy technologies. Because states have greater potential to strengthen the energy market than even the federal government does, interstate partnerships have the potential to spur economic development within regions as a whole.

  • Reduce market uncertainty by establishing consistent energy policies that remove regulatory ambiguity and establish clear implications for utility companies. Coupling predictable federal policies with more creative funding streams will spur investment in high-risk, high-reward clean energy projects. Both are needed to advance the innovation pipeline and sustain its market over many years.

  • Democratize access to the power grid. Utilities, which increasingly will be at the forefront of the renewable energy arena, should eliminate operational requirements that hinder entrepreneurs' ability to scale renewable energy solutions, and should establish standardized, easy-to-use connection procedures. Allowing customers to generate and store their own energy is another way clean energy solutions might be integrated into existing utility infrastructures.

  • Encourage cross-sector collaboration, building upon regional energy innovation clusters that propel business creation and growth. Such partnerships can result in increased efficiency of private and government energy investments, and help get more energy innovation to scale at the market level.

  • Support human capital development at universities by rewarding innovation that has commercial impact and measuring research value by the number of new products and processes developed, rather than by the number of papers published or patents obtained. Universities must increase STEM and entrepreneurial teaching, and also should teach faculty about the pathways to commercializing their innovations, encouraging them to pass on this knowledge to their students.

Attendees at the three summits included White House representatives; federal, state and local officials; clean-energy entrepreneurs; representatives from academia; private-sector and nonprofit leaders; and other innovators.

About the Kauffman Foundation
The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private nonpartisan foundation that works to harness the power of entrepreneurship and innovation to grow economies and improve human welfare. Through its research and other initiatives, the Kauffman Foundation aims to open young people's eyes to the possibility of entrepreneurship, promote entrepreneurship education, raise awareness of entrepreneurship-friendly policies, and find alternative pathways for the commercialization of new knowledge and technologies. In addition, the Foundation focuses on initiatives in the Kansas City region to advance students' math and science skills, and improve the educational achievement of urban students, including the Ewing Marion Kauffman School, a college preparatory charter school for middle and high school students set to open in 2011. Founded by late entrepreneur and philanthropist Ewing Marion Kauffman, the Foundation is based in Kansas City, Mo. and has approximately $2 billion in assets. For more information, visit www.kauffman.org, and follow the Foundation on www.twitter.com/kauffmanfdn and www.facebook.com/kauffmanfdn.

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