Ed Note: Starting at 9 AM EDT the Energy Innovations Summit will be streamed live on WhiteHouse.gov/live.
Throughout our history, American innovation has driven economic growth and helped solve the great challenges that confront us. One of the greatest challenges of the modern era is transforming the ways we produce and consume energy. Not surprisingly, technology is the key enabler of that transformation. As President Obama has said, “No area is more ripe for such innovation than energy.”
Today, leaders from the private sector, nonprofits and government are gathering at an Energy Innovation Conference at the White House to discuss how they can work together to accelerate energy innovation, and support entrepreneurs and small businesses in the energy sector.
As part of that effort, Small Business Administrator Karen Mills and I are announcing a partnership between the SBA and the Department of Energy to encourage investments in small businesses that are focused on energy efficiency and renewable energy.
Small businesses have long been key contributors to America’s energy sector. Where larger firms and corporations provide the heft to help energy technologies reach global markets, small businesses thrive at the other end of the spectrum, in the innovation of new energy products and services. They’re quicker to adopt new approaches, and more willing to take on technology challenges. Given that, it is little surprise that small businesses create 13 times more patents per employee than their corporate counterparts.
Yet even when a company has a great idea, commercial success doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time to transition all the way from idea to product. The challenge is one of staying power, or ensuring that small businesses have the resources to graduate to each stage in the development process—from idea to marketplace.
Today’s announcement brings us one step closer to ensuring that small businesses are empowered to stay in the game long enough to help solve our energy challenges, and, in the process, jumpstart a thriving, private market for energy innovation.
But that’s not all. By promoting scientific discovery and technological innovation, we can make America the leader in the global marketplace for clean energy technology, create thousands of new jobs, and strengthen the health of our planet with a more responsible, sustainable approach to energy. Following today’s conference, we will be announcing a series of regional follow-on meetings in order to continue this dialogue in communities across the nation
Dr. Kristina Johnson is Under Secretary of Energy.