Monday, January 25, 2010

NCSE Conference : Thursday : Breakout Session and Speeches

Thursday afternoon I attended a breakout session on Bridging the Green Gap between Sustainable Product Research and Commercialization

Moderated by Susan Jenkins of Berkeley and CEREL. Other panelists include Bill Roper, Senior Advisor at Dawson and Associates, Katta Jayaram Reddy, University of Wyoming and CEREL, David Rigby, President of Waste Water Management Inc, and Alfonso Blanco, Program Manager of the EPA, Office of Waste Water Management.

All the panelists were small business and university researchers so it was really about small businesses, entrepreneurs, and inventors going through the patent process and getting start-up capital. The goal was to come up with suggestions for action to be presented in a report with suggestions from the other breakout sessions.

Not all universities have friendly technology transfer offices that assist researchers in patenting their ideas and developing them into commercial products. There are a lot of legal hurdles. Panelists wanted more incubators, a "one-stop shop" where inventors can work and also get help from lawyers. They say current incubators are too small and don't have permanent staff. Congress can give loans for IBO's.

Grand Canyon Problem is where do you get the capital. They talked about venture capitalist firms, but one guy insisted that angel investors are the way to go.

Third party certification programs or government certification programs can generate demand. Industry standards, LEED, EnergyStar, etc.

They were also in favor of clean technology competitions. They thought that was an efficient way to use money the way markets are efficient.

Some panelists expressed their view that inventors should be more concerned with publicity than with guarding their ideas from copiers. Being first to implement it and speed in getting ideas to commercialization is more important.

They mentioned an EPA program Smart Way.

Panelists agreed it would be great if there was a national database of projects, competitions, and businesses. A website they mentioned that sort of serve this purpose are

After the breakout session, the Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Herman Daly, the granddaddy of ecological economics. I realized when he was talking that he was missing his right arm.

Then Gus Speth gave the Chafee Memorial Lecture. He founded the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) and a number of other environmental organizations. A few notable things are that he mentioned the establishment of the New Economics Institute and the book, "Managing Without Growth."

No comments: