Innovation, collaboration, incubation: the keys to transforming our energy future
Innovating energy technology takes time, resources, rigorous science and access to the best minds hatching the best ideas. In their early stages, these innovations are fragile. And unlike some innovations that could scale organically, energy innovations have to fit into an existing system that billions of people rely upon each day. As a result, these innovations have to be carefully nurtured even while they’re being strenuously tested. As society transforms energy to options that will meet demand while decreasing environmental impact, we also need to transform the environments in which we protect and mature fledgling energy innovation. We need an incubator.
Cyclotron Road is just that: an innovation incubator. It’s an energy entrepreneurship program at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California that creates an environment where innovators can explore and validate new technologies. Importantly, the program helps entrepreneurs find viable pathways to implement their game-changing ideas and bring them more quickly to impactful scale. To this end, Cyclotron Road has received a boost from a non-profit organization called Activation Energy (AE).
Working closely with Cyclotron Road, AE will identify and help fill the gaps from lab to market for hard-tech energy innovation. It will provide both funding and a network of energy industry mentors and advisors offering strategic guidance. Collaboration between innovators, investors and industry will be easier, streamlining the process of bringing big ideas from the incubator up to a national or global scale.
“With a strong emphasis on collaboration, Cyclotron Road has proven to be a great success since its inception in 2014,” said Nazeer Bhore, manager, ExxonMobil Research & Engineering. “The energy industry stood up and took notice. It’s a window into where next-generation energy technology is heading and we wanted to be a part of facilitating those efforts.”
Bhore is ExxonMobil’s representative on the AE Leadership Council, which includes top industry executives, investors, entrepreneurs and academics from across the spectrum of energy innovation. He and his colleagues will work to reduce the barriers to developing and implementing energy technology by providing market and technology insights to Cyclotron Road’s young energy entrepreneurs.
“By linking these innovators to world-class scientists and facilities, we have empowered them to quickly and efficiently mature their technologies and business models to the point where industry is leaning in,” said Ilan Gur, Founding Director, Cyclotron Road. “Through our partnership with AE, we can better position our innovators to work with corporations and investors to drive their technologies to commercial scale.”
Cyclotron Road currently supports the development of breakthrough technologies in fields including industrial energy use, carbon utilization, energy storage, bio-manufacturing, renewable and distributed generation and advanced materials. On September 29th, Cyclotron Road innovators presented their hard-tech solutions to more than 200 investors and industry executives at AE’s organization’s launch in Oakland, CA. With the help of the Leadership Council, Activation Energy will also begin evaluating new innovators for inclusion in the Cyclotron Road program in October.
“This is really about people coming together with the common goal of advancing hard-tech science in energy,” said Bhore. “It takes people, ideas and resources to make sure that the sustainable energy future we want becomes a reality. It’s a new model for research and development that starts on the ground floor, at the entrepreneurial level.”
Photo credit: Kelvin Murray