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Disrupting the (Energy) Status Quo: ARPA-E Helping the U.S. Face 21st Century Challenges

October 11, 2011 - 11:15am

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Dr. Arun Majumdar, Director of the Department's Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E), speaks at PopTech's Energy Disruptors: Transforming the System salon on September 8th, 2011. | Courtesy of PopTech

Dr. Arun Majumdar, Director of the Department's Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E), speaks at PopTech's Energy Disruptors: Transforming the System salon on September 8th, 2011. | Courtesy of PopTech

The United States faces extraordinary challenges in the 21st century, from creating jobs to protecting the environment and reducing our energy dependency, but with strategic and smart investment we can create game-changing new technologies that overcome these challenges. The question is, will the U.S. make the choices necessary to “win the future?” Dr. Arun Majumdar -- the director of our advanced research agency, ARPA-E -- believes we can and should.

While speaking at the Energy Disrupter's salon hosted by PopTech last month, Dr. Majumdar highlighted how ARPA-E is investing in projects that could lead to technological “quantum leaps” that result in whole new generations of both affordable and clean products -- products that can be manufactured in the U.S. and sold globally. ARPA-E’s research programs run a wide gamut, from microbes that need only electricity and carbon to create vehicle fuel, to the next generation of vehicle batteries that could be three times cheaper than they are today, and even plants that could directly replace oil as a fuel source.

While ARPA-E’s research portfolio is diverse, each of its more than 120 projects hope to bridge the gap between basic research and commercialization while creating transformative new technologies that industry by itself cannot or will not support due to the risk involved.

Dr. Majumdar also announced that Bill Gates (Founder of Microsoft), Fred Smith (Chairman, President, and CEO of FedEx), and Lee Scott (Chairman of BDT Capital and Former CEO of Walmart) will serve as keynote speakers at the third annual ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit on February 27-29, 2012. The summit, which uses an inter-disciplinary model much like PopTech’s, provides a rare chance for key players from across the energy ecosystem -- researchers, entrepreneurs, investors, top corporate executives and government officials -- to build lasting partnerships that can accelerate the commercialization of transformative energy technologies. In addition, the summit will feature over 150 exhibits from ARPA-E-funded projects and applicants using a wide range of technologies as well as new ARPA-E research programs.

Many more speakers will be added in the coming months. To register for the 2012 ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit and for the latest news on the summit program, please visit energyinnovationsummit.com.

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