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While nearly empty when everyone’s away at the education sessions, the Technology Showcase at the 2013 ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit buzzes with conversation during the lunch break and the nightly networking reception. The Showcase presents 250 of America’s next transformational energy technologies – some of them ARPA-E grantees, others a selective group of companies and organization.
The education portion happens in the mornings and afternoon providing attendees and exhibitors with insight on the future of the energy economy from industry leaders. During the lunch hour and the evening, the Summit is a valuable forum for conducting business and discussing collaboration among entrepreneurs, investors and other researchers.
The idea behind ARPA-E is to fund high-impact, high-potential energy research, but that’s only the first step on the road to full development of a technology. Investors need to pick up where ARPA-E leaves off for a product to make it to market. The Summit gets all these people into the same room.
Since 2009, 17 ARPA-E projects have attracted more than $450 million in private sector follow-on funding after ARPA-E’s initial investment of approximately $70 million. Already ARPA-E awardees have doubled theworld-record forenergy density in lithium-ion batteries, and developed a 1-megawatt transistor the size of a fingernail. Technical achievements like these are the type of transformational technology that excites researchers and business innovators alike – and there’s more innovation on the way.
To see the typical ARPA-E grantee, take a look at the OPEN 2012 projects -- an open call to America’s scientists and engineers for their big ideas. You’ll see that of the 66 projects selected for funding, 47 percent were led by universities, 29 percent by small business, 15 percent by large businesses, 7.5 percent by national labs and 1.5 percent by non-profits. With that recent announcement, ARPA-E’s portfolio includes 285 projects.
In the past two days of the 2013 ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit, keynote speakers and education session leaders talked a lot about how ARPA-E is “swinging for the fences.” To fully understand the term, ride the escalator down to the ground floor of the conference center to the Technology Showcase and you’ll see what they mean.