DENVER The U.S. Department of Energy is making new efforts to attract entrepreneurs at early stages to commercialize 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 vice president 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 program with Foundation Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and Arch Venture Partners. When DOE officials sought additional venture help to avoid the "commercialization valley of death," other venture firms like Khosla Ventures and Matrix Partners got involved.
Following his speech, Bruce talked with EE Times about his thoughts on venture capital.