David Kirkpatrick

February 11, 2010

ARPA-E funding future still cloudy

DARPA’s energy innovation cousin finally received funding last year and by all accounts has been a success. The current economy and the White House’s recent stance on holding the line on domestic spending could cut the legs out from under ARPA-E before it can ever start to hit its stride.

From the link:

A year after it first received funding, the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E) got high marks from the congressional committee that spearheaded its creation in its “first annual checkup.” In a hearing of the House committee on Science and Technology, the new agency, which is designed to promote the research, development and commercialization off “game-changing” energy technologies, received praise for quickly sorting through 3,700 applications to make 37 awards in its first round of funding. It also fine-tuned its awards process, with the second round of funding going into specific areas of research identified in a series of workshops. Some of the projects that ARPA-E funded have since attracted private support.

The agency’s fate, however, remains unclear. It’s funding so far has come from last year’s stimulus package, not the regular budget, and Congress denied its request for funds for the current fiscal year. The President’s 2011 budget includes nearly $300 million for the agency, but at a time when Congress is facing pressure to cut spending, that money might not make to the final budget.

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