Hard technologies like these require much more time and capital per learning cycle, a lesson the venture capital community has learned the hard way over the last decade.
In response, we’ve seen VC investment into early-stage advanced energy technology startups plummet.
Bill Gates recently weighed in on his personal blog: “Right now, the world spends only a few billion dollars a year on researching early-stage ideas for zero-carbon energy. It should be investing two or three times that much.” ARPA-E has emerged as a highly effective model for injecting government funding into early stage R&D. Meanwhile, new efforts like the PRIME Coalition are working to mobilize philanthropic capital into low-carbon energy innovation through alternative financing mechanisms.
Already, there are a number of new initiatives across the country that are developing and testing new models that enable innovators to translate hard energy technology from science to product.
Based in Berkeley, Calif., we recruit top-notch energy innovators from across the nation looking to start hard technology companies and nurture them at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a world-class research facility.
This approach enables a different kind of hard energy technology startup, one that borrows from the lean learning cycles of the software archetype.
Because above all else, our best hope to develop transformative energy technologies is to give our top minds a home to chase the biggest problems and do our best to light the pathway to success.