Office of Technology Transitions

Energy Investor Center Bridges for Innovation Summit: Houston, Texas – November 13, 2017

November 21, 2017

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Bridges for Innovation Summit Rick Perry

The U.S Department of Energy’s Energy Investor Center (EIC) hosts global roundtable discussions with energy private sector, academia, government and industry leaders to understand the obstacles and opportunities in the global energy market. In partnership with Rice University’s Energy and Environment Initiative (EEi), the EIC “Bridges for Innovation Summit Series” assembled a broad spectrum of EIC stakeholders in Houston, Texas on November 13, 2017.

The Summit welcomed more than one hundred investors, entrepreneurs, and senior government officials for a conversation on transformation through innovation.  As an all-day affair, attendees heard from four panels covering emerging innovation in the mobility sector, risk mitigation for entrepreneurs during scale-up, how to catalyze global innovation, and finally innovation for improved infrastructure resilience.

U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry offered keynote remarks homing in on the important role of public-private partnerships and innovation in improving the lives of  U.S. citizens and highlighting how National Laboratories deliver science and technology breakthroughs to transform the world.

Charles D. McConnell, Executive Director of Rice University's Energy and Environment Initiative, kicked off the summit with a discussion of the necessary facets of a sustainable energy system, followed by EIC Director, Dr. Sanjiv Malhotra’s remarks on the “ah-hah” moment: a point in time where entrepreneurs have a grand realization. Panels highlighted the rapid pace of change, including increased access to terabytes of actionable data on market participants as well as tools necessary to crunch that data. 

The Summit featured remarks from the President and CEO of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), Ray Washburne, who explained the products provided by OPIC to enable greater U.S. investment in emerging markets. Many speakers, including our opening keynote speaker, BP’s Global Head of Upstream Technology, Ahmed Hashmi highlighted that innovation is best propelled as part of a sustainable ecosystem that encourages and supports new thinking - but also imposes the discipline of market-focused and profitable outcomes. 

Speakers discussed risks inherent in an interconnected global supply chain networks, such as cybersecurity, and the potential for over-reliance on scarce resources, like those used to manufacture lithium car batteries. Panelists discussed how to properly incentivize and value grid services and resilience and how the recent devastating hurricanes in the United States and the Caribbean demonstrate the vulnerability of physical energy infrastructure.

The event provided unique opportunity to highlight the innovative efforts and opportunities to rebuild the city of Houston as it continues its recovery from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey.

The summit is one of the final stops on the Road to the 2017 Global Entrepreneurship Summit to be held in Hyderabad, India.

All in all, the participants enjoyed an exciting and packed day. We extend our gratitude to all participants for advancing this important conversation.

A Happy Thanksgiving to all!