As discussions begin today at the 10th MIT Energy Conference, the energy sector ponders how industry, government, and the scientific community can combine forces to enable the rapid evolution of the energy system.

Energy technology development has a unique set of challenges.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, two initiatives Cyclotron Road and Otherlab are trying to address today’s energy technology challenges by testing new models for translating early-stage R&D and supporting entrepreneurial scientists and engineers.

Leveraging existing research infrastructure, Cyclotron Road is working to dramatically reduce the start-up cost for next-generation industrial energy technologies by partnering technology developers with the extensive network of U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory facilities.

Launched earlier this year, these projects span technology areas as diverse as ocean wave energy, thermionic energy conversion, and electrochemical reduction of carbon dioxide.

Rather than leveraging existing infrastructure, Otherlab is taking advantage of the rapidly dropping cost of design, prototyping, and small-scale manufacturing techniques to develop hardware solutions across several technology areas, from robotics to energy.

Their offices in San Francisco’s Mission District are replete with tools for quickly designing, building, and testing new technologies, from 3D printers, to laser cutters, to precision machining tools.