I just delivered a keynote speech and spent a few days soaking up new knowledge at the ARPA-E Energy Summit (ARPA-E is Advanced Research Projects Agency — Energy). It was great talking with some of the smartest, best-intentioned, most productive researchers I’ve ever met. The agency, set up by Obama seven years ago, seems like a brilliant concept: Put university researchers, entrepreneurs, corporate finance people, and government representatives in the same place at the same time, set them to work on a critical problem (creating cleaner, cheaper, more reliable, more resilient energy systems), and make it easy to form productive partnerships. Let starry-eyed dreamers learn a bit about the business world, and bring hard-nosed executives the latest developments in the nation’s labs. Find the best ideas and figure out how to fund them.
Too bad that, given the change in Administrations and Trump’s stubborn belief in “alternative facts”, this might be the last Summit. I really hope not.