The Innovation Challenges (ICs) have been a mainstay of Mission Innovation’s efforts to accelerate clean energy innovation. Through these voluntary coalitions, MI members have collaborated on clean energy research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) in eight technology areas – seeking to advance innovations that can transform global energy systems and drive down the cost of technology. Four years after the ICs were established, MI members have much to celebrate.
ICs have strengthened international networks between researchers, industry, academia, think tanks, and policymakers. They have filled a gap where global collaboration had been limited – such as in the areas of clean energy materials and solar fuel technologies. ICs have also paired with IEA Technology Collaboration Programmes (TCPs) and other deployment- and policy-related initiatives to align their respective efforts across the innovation spectrum and to help realize the full potential of energy technologies. These networks are indispensable for advancing technological innovation.
ICs have facilitated the exchange of knowledge and brought together complementary areas of expertise. A great example of how ICs are replicating successful strategies and ideas is through the online information-sharing platforms that the ICs have set up on smart grid technologies and hydrogen valleys. ICs also share research findings, lessons learned, and best practices through workshops, reports, and their day-to-day operations.
ICs have played a critical role in identifying innovation needs. For example, ICs have identified and communicated priority research directions for carbon capture, utilization and storage technologies as well as technology and innovation gaps in the field of advanced biofuels. By enhancing knowledge around the technology and innovation challenges that confront the global community, IC findings can help to inform priorities for national RD&D and international collaboration.
Lastly, ICs have delivered on collaborative RD&D projects. For instance, by combining financial resources and technical expertise, members have invested in projects that advance off-grid access to electricity. ICs have also stimulated private sector interest in clean energy solutions, such as those used in the heating and cooling of buildings. Meanwhile, ICs perform collaborative research and development and promote and facilitate joint funding calls, with the aim of advancing performance breakthroughs in priority areas.
Over the past four years, ICs have delivered on a variety of projects – from prize competitions, technology roadmaps, joint funding calls, workshops, to information sharing platforms. At the heart of all this work, MI members recognize that we can go further and faster in accelerating clean energy innovation when we work together. The knowledge, networks, and momentum generated by the ICs put MI members in good stead, as MI looks to amplify its impact beyond 2020.