The Center on Global Energy Policy (CGEP) at Columbia University SIPA welcomes Erik Funkhouser, who joins the Center as Managing Director of the Carbontech Development Initiative. The Carbontech Development Initiative (CDI) is a grantmaking and accelerator program to develop, commercialize, and scale tools and technologies focused on lowering emissions by turning carbon into useful products.
Announced in November 2021 during COP26 in Glasgow, Columbia University was awarded $10 million in seed funding by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). In his new role, Erik will manage a program designed to bring together experts and entrepreneurs working on carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) technologies.
“This is a critical moment for Columbia University and the state of New York,” said Jason Bordoff, Founding Director of CGEP and Co-Founding Dean at the Columbia Climate School. “We’re excited to have Erik on board to help steer this program and establish New York as a hub for carbontech innovation.”
The Carbontech Development Initiative is part of the Center’s comprehensive efforts to accelerate research on CCUS technologies. Since 2018, the Center has dedicated research efforts to carbon management through the Carbon Management Research Initiative (CaMRI), a research program set up to address technical, economic, and policy barriers to market deployment of CCS, carbon recycling, and carbon removal.
“For a long time, the Center and our colleagues across campus have seen carbontech as an important tool to help with lowering emissions in hard-to-decarbonize sectors like heavy industry,” said Melissa Lott, Director of Research at the Center and Acting Director of the CDI. “The new Carbontech Development Initiative at Columbia is an important opportunity to bridge the gap between academia, the private sector, and public institutions in order to accelerate progress.”
“Carbontech has come into its own as technology advances and thought leadership have demonstrated its case as an entirely new domain area for climate change mitigation,” said Erik Funkhouser. “Considering the higher interest level among policymakers, the accelerating state of technology, and openness across large segments of the private sector, the timing couldn’t be better for establishing the U.S.’s first large-scale carbontech innovation center.”
Since 2013, Erik has worked as an expert in emerging technology innovation and diffusion, focusing on market development, market transformation, and research, development, and demonstration (RD&D). Erik was most recently Director for Research Coordination and Partnerships at the University of Texas at Austin Energy Institute (UTEI), where he managed the UTEI’s RD&D programs and external relations.