Minding The Alternative Energy Commercialization Gap

May 07, 2012 5:04 PM ETABG, SYNM, TVIAQ, TSN, HON, AF, ABGOY9 Comments
Alan Kotok profile picture
Alan Kotok

The White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy last week unveiled its Bioeconomy Blueprint, a collection of actions for federal agencies to promote economic growth based on advances in life sciences research. But also last week, an entrepreneur and financial adviser in the energy field pointed out in a paper that for the government to move scientific discoveries from the lab to the energy marketplace, agencies need to fill a gap in funding that the private sector up to now has been reluctant to address.

Among the examples of bio-based innovations described in the Bioeconomy Blueprint report is the generation of biofuels that make use of advanced technologies such as genetic engineering and synthetic biology. The document recognizes that federal agencies can at best encourage the development of these advances, with the private sector taking the lead to make them commercially viable. To encourage the transition from lab to market, the blueprint calls for more steps like Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) grants, private/public R&D partnerships, and use of the government's purchasing power to lead by example.

That process of taking discoveries from the lab to marketplace was also a subject at a press conference in Washington, D.C. the day before publication of the Bioeconomy Blueprint, and dealing with the U.S. alternative energy future. The American Academy of Arts and Sciences held the press conference to discuss the findings in the Spring 2012 issue of its journal Daedalus devoted entirely to the topic of alternative energy.

Among the companies encouraging action on alternative energies are commercial airlines, who have historically suffered from world oil price fluctuations, and developers of bio-based aviation fuel alternatives. The industry took a major step in this direction last July with the publication of an ASTM standard for alternative aviation

This article was written by

Alan Kotok profile picture
Alan Kotok is a Washington, DC-based reporter and writer on science, technology, business, and public policy, and editor and publisher of Science Business, an online news service on the value chain connecting scientific discovery with the marketplace. Kotok previously was managing editor of Science Careers, the online employment, career development, and funding portal of Science Magazine.

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