May 11, 2016
The first-ever Lab Impact Summit on May the Fourth (be with you) 2016 at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado celebrated the tremendous impact that National Labs have had on driving innovation across industries. Under the leadership of outgoing US Department of Energy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, David Danielson, who provided opening remarks along with moderating a panel, the labs have been working together more effectively than ever before, collaborating to provide entrepreneurs with resources in a more streamlined fashion. With over 30,000 scientists and engineers working within the national labs overall, they represent a tremendous resource for innovation.
Following opening remarks from Secretary Danielson, Ford VP of Research Ken Washington described how the company is transitioning from a traditional focus on car manufacturing to the much larger mobility market, encompassing automated vehicles, ride sharing, and more. Other large industry representatives appeared on a panel with a similar emphasis on innovation and new markets, with speakers from Duke Energy, General Motors, and Hawaiian Electric, among others. Duke Energy Director of Technology Development focused on the need to transition to clean energy and then electrify everything in order to meet the challenge of climate change, while Hawaiian Electric VP of Energy Delivery focused on the importance of renewable energy overall and the challenges of integrating rooftop solar in particular.
After lunch, former CTO of General Electric Mark Little discussed his company’s investments in innovation, and then three breakout sessions focused on the electric grid, buildings, and transportation. Finally, the event concluded with presentations from several innovative groups including CEO Ilan Gur of the Cyclotron Road incubator at Berkeley and CEO of Local Motors Jay Rogers. Attendees adjourned to network in the NREL courtyard next to the technology showcase area, which included a 3D printed hybrid electric SUV and a solar powered mobile home.
The event was coupled with graduation of the NREL led Lab-Corps program’s second cohort. Launched in 2015, this DOE funded program aims to train and empower National Laboratory researchers to better understand the market application of technologies they are developing within the laboratory. After weeks of education and customer discovery interviews, teams completed their final presentations on May 5th.
The Lab Impact Summit was a great convening of industry and key stakeholders to demonstrate the vast expertise and impact at the DOE National Laboratories.