Focus on Technology: Hatching innovation in Silicon Valley - Energy Factor
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Focus on Technology: Hatching innovation in Silicon Valley

Nazeer Bhore - 09/29/2016
Nazeer Bhore

Nazeer Bhore is Breakthrough Research Manager at ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company.

Potent ideas and game-changing innovations don’t necessarily hatch on their own. Often they must be nurtured, cultivated, and cared for. Like in an incubator.

That’s the idea behind Cyclotron Road, the early-stage energy-technology program begun at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The program is what is known as a technology incubator for some of the most ambitious and audacious ideas that might one day transform the global energy landscape.

Cyclotron Road has gotten a lot of attention for the initial early promise of its research programs – see this 2015 feature in The New York Times to get a flavor. But there’s reason to think things are going to get even more exciting in Silicon Valley.

To hear Ilan Gur, the founding director of Cyclotron Road, tell it, “Transforming our energy system will require transforming the way we innovate.”

That’s where partners like ExxonMobil come in.

Earlier today, a nonprofit consortium involving ExxonMobil and other technology and academic leaders known as Activation Energy announced its support to enhance the energy entrepreneurship ecosystem at Cyclotron Road. I am privileged to serve as ExxonMobil’s representative on the Activation Energy Leadership Council.

Our aim is to help build upon the good work already underway at Cyclotron Road, particularly in terms of identifying and helping fill critical institutional gaps in the pathway from lab to market. Because what good is a transformational idea if it never advances out of the testing grounds?

Current Cyclotron Road projects include attempts to harness wave energy, dramatically improve lithium-ion batteries, and convert captured carbon dioxide emissions into fuels and chemicals.

Cyclotron Road was founded in 2014 to recruit top scientific, engineering, and entrepreneurial talent from across the country to work alongside the minds at the storied Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. The lab has an illustrious history: thirteen Nobel Prizes, thirteen National Science Medals, and 70 current lab scientists with membership in the National Academy of Sciences.

But there’s a lot more history left to write in Silicon Valley, particularly in building the energy apparatus for the 21st century and beyond. I am excited to be involved as ExxonMobil plays its part.

Nazeer Bhore is Breakthrough Research Manager at ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company.

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