US Seeks to Attract New Nanotech Energy Applications

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 11, 2009 3:01 pm    Post subject: US Seeks to Attract New Nanotech Energy Applications Reply with quote

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is making new efforts to attract entrepreneurs at early stages to commercialise renewable energy concepts, a DOE official said at the inaugural Nano Renewable Energy Summit on Monday (July 21).

Michael Bruce, senior advisor for finance in DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, said bringing in specialists in business development when working on public-private collaborations is more effective than the "technology incubators" commonly created by academic institutions working with private industry.

Bruce delivered the keynote for a new conference focused on the use of nanostructures in energy applications. Nanotubes, buckyballs and similar nano devices are familiar in applications such as thin films for solar photovoltaics, but nanomaterials also are used in electricity generation and transmission, said Nano Business Alliance VP Vincent Caprio.

Bruce has witnessed the new involvement of scores of venture firms in renewable energy and nanomaterials, where only a few investment specialists played a few years ago. DOE started its entrepreneur programme with Foundation Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and Arch Venture Partners. When DOE officials sought additional venture help to avoid the "commercialisation valley of death," other venture firms like Khosla Ventures and Matrix Partners got involved.

Nanotechnology investment from the private sector began growing as the federal government expanded its National Nanotechnology Initiative, which has been funded to the tune of Rs.42,820.65 crore ($10 billion) since 2000. DOE has facilitated investor interest through the creation of five nanotechnology centres of excellence, covering areas such as micro-molecular structures and thin flims.

Bruce said that DOE has turned away from traditional licensing fees involving royalties for patents, and instead is promoting an equity-share licence, in which equity shares in private companies are exchanged for technology licensing rights.

Source: Nano Renewable Energy Summit
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