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Columbia Energy Exchange

ARPA-E: Enabling Risky But Promising Technology

Guest

Evelyn Wang and Laurent Pilon

Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy

The Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) recently announced $100 million for its SCALEUP program, which funds start-ups and emerging companies that need support commercializing products.  

The agency serves as a research and development group for the Department of Energy. ARPA-E is often described as a venture capital fund, because of its focus on getting new technologies to market. Crucially, it garners support from both political parties because of its emphasis on innovation and national security through transformative energy tech.

Still, ARPA-E’s $450 million budget is much smaller than other research and development agencies. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), part of the Department of Defense, has a $4 billion budget this year.

So, what technologies will ARPA-E focus on this year? How will it make the most of its budget? And will it continue to see bi-partisan support in the current political environment? 

This week host Bill Loveless talks with Evelyn Wang and Laurent Pilon about ARPA-E’s unique approach to developing and launching high-risk energy projects. 

Evelyn Wang is the director of ARPA-E. Prior to joining ARPA-E in 2022, she served as the Ford professor of engineering and head of the department of mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

Laurent Pilon is a program director at ARPA-E. His research focuses on solar, thermal, and electrical energy storage. He was previously a professor in the mechanical and aerospace engineering department at the University of California, Los Angeles. 

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