I have had the pleasure of attending the Department of Energy's Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Venture Capital Technology Showcase day today and tomorrow (tip of the hat to MIT's Bill Aulet for helping make the connection). It has proven to be a fascinating look into the organization of, and specific research efforts of, the DoE labs system.
First of all, taxpaying readers will be pleased to know that the DoE is not spending any money on free lunches, drinks or coffee for venture capitalists; or on brightly colored wall paint or floor tiles in the indomitably beige corridors; or even on wall decorations of any kind (except for repeated instances of posters featuring perhaps the weirdest Hollywood cross-promotion ever: a rat from a recent Disney movie holding up a compact fluorescent bulb and wearing a big grin, urging people to replace their incandescents, the relationship between rats and CFLs remaining somewhat unexplained...). What budgets are made available to the Department are going only into productive research, clearly!
Secondly, what is also clear so far is that recent efforts in the EERE group to drive commercialization are having some immediately positive effects, as evidenced by the strong presentations by researchers. The first day was very informative, with a lot of great market and cost data in key research areas like solar and biofuels. And the technologies presented as available for commercialization, while necessarily just a flavor of the overall volume of research being undertaken, show a thoughtful recognition of the realities both of the market and of technology needs on the ground. It was a very strong performance and hopefully a good jump-start in turning some of these needed technologies into new entrepreneurial efforts toward broad market adoption.
Amidst all the ongoing debate about governmental policies and broader positions on energy and environmental issues, this event by the EERE group has done a lot to bring together clean energy technologists and potential financial backers, and will hopefully become a regular event.
Making news today is the public announcement that The Cleantech Group (parents of the Cleantech Venture Network) has acquired Inside Greentech. The merged groups will launch a new cleantech media effort, Cleantech.com, with Inside Greentech's Dallas Kachan heading up the group.
Congratulations to both groups, it's a great match and (as I'm quoted suggesting in Inside Greentech's announcing article) a great indication that cleantech is continuing to capture investor and business leader interest. Enough to support multiple media efforts covering the sector, at least. Neal Dikeman had a very good post today recapping much of the recent ramp-up in green tech media activity.
More to follow as this fast-emerging space continues to evolve.
Final note on the day: Even two years after Katrina, the revitalization efforts continue. This effort to marry rebuilding efforts and green building technologies is worth noting...