Not every “good” idea that gets submitted to the U.S.’s frontier R&D agencies (DARPA and ARPA-E) gets the gold ring of federal funding. But the DOE/ARPA-E says it has some ideas for providing some non-monetary assistance for those that didn’t make it into the final funding rounds.
Since it was created about two years ago, ARPA-E says the number of proposals for disruptive energy innovations “has been thrilling.” My guess is that DARPA probably has less financial restrictions than ARPA-E, which is tied to a specific budget and, because of more transparency, the agency no doubt will feel political pressure over the next two years to deliver some breakthroughs it can brag about. Regardless, the “thrilling” response combined with budget limitations means that only a fraction of the good ideas really get funding from the project.
This past week, ARPA-E announced it was launching a new effort to help the runners-up hook up with potential capital investors, customers and partnering companies. I should clarify here that this is not for just any proposal not funded by ARPA-E. The folks at ARPA-E have specially designated certain projects as “Encouraged Applicants,” a designation that was given to proposals that were of strong enough interest to have made it through a couple of the rounds of the funding competition.
This connections effort has begun with special webpages where a synopsis of each Encouraged Applicant proposal and contact information can be found. Applicants’ names, phones, email and weblinks are also provided. The descriptions are organized into 13 “Community Categories” shown at the top of this post..
ARPA-E hopes the listings will foster networking that will accelerate technology development, but it offers a few caveats. First, it notes that the descriptions were composed by the applicants and only edited by ARPA-E, as appropriate. In addition, ARPA-E wants to make it clear that the listing does not necessarily represent an endorsement of the applicants nor the technologies they propose.
If for no other reason than to read some intriguing proposals, check it out.