Ray Rothrock

ARPA-E Innovation Summit 2011 – Science Fair for Adults!

In Energy on March 3, 2011 at 3:18 pm

I just came from the second APRA-E Innovation Summit in Washington, D.C.  Let me first say congratulations to Dr. Arun Majumdar and his whole team for a great conference and experience.  The speakers were great, the panels substantive and the exhibitors very interesting.  As my wife used to tell me in my early years of venture capital, “you get to see the future” and indeed I do – and did at this summit.  Another high-five to Secretary Chu for getting former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to keynote.  He brought the house down, but had some really good ideas embedded in his speech about how to talk about energy.  His message:  Let’s get on with it – action!

R&D is the lifeblood of an economy.  New things are required to grow and prosper and new things come from R&D.  People, thinking up solutions to problems, products that we don’t know we need until they show up on the shelves, and basic improvements of life is what the US R&D has been for 200 years.  Thank goodness APRA-E got off the ground and has funded 121 projects.

A final note, as I passed by the Department of Commerce on my drive out-of-town, on one of the frieze’s on the building façade it said, “The patent system added the fuel of interest to the fire of genius” – Lincoln.  How true that is, and how important it is in our modern, rapidly evolving society.  (By the way, Lincoln did have one patent to his name.)


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