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Crow, Dirks represent higher ed at White House


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May 07, 2010

Entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, scientists and policymakers convened May 7 for the White House Energy Innovation Conference.

Arizona State University (ASU) President Michael M. Crow and Gary Dirks, director of ASU’s LightWorks alternative energy program, represented higher education in a high-level energy innovation roundtable moderated by Small Business Administrator Karen Mills.

They were joined by Carl Schramm, president and CEO of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Desh Deshpande, chairman of Sycamore Networks, and Dan Reicher, head of energy initiatives for Google.org.  

The purpose of the White House Energy Innovation Conference was to support energy entrepreneurs and high-growth energy businesses, and Crow spoke about the importance of energy innovation for economic growth, and the role of universities in advancing that.  The event kicked off a series of regional meetings, with the first in Omaha next month and the last in Phoenix in early September.

“ASU has a deep capacity in energy research.  Universities, as knowledge enterprises, are uniquely positioned to advance new discoveries, but we also have a great responsibility to connect innovation to the marketplace. We are hard at work on this,” said Crow.

Following the roundtable discussion and a panel about jumpstarting commercialization, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke commended the group for its commitment to revitalizing the clean energy market.

"We can meet half of our future energy demand through enhanced efficiency alone – and that is through existing technology," Locke said.  To accomplish this we need cross-sector partnerships that leverage all stakeholders' unique capabilities and skills to ultimately expedite the process of bringing ideas to market.

Afternoon breakout sessions provided a forum for participants to dive into issues such as the early adoption of energy innovation and pathways for entrepreneurs to advance innovation to the market.  Effective solutions to commercialization barriers will embrace connectivity, support collaboration and address demand side challenges.   

Just two weeks ago, Crow accompanied Mayor of Phoenix Phil Gordon to the White House in honor of the Energize Phoenix project, a $25 million collaboration between ASU, the City of Phoenix and Arizona Public Service (APS) awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy.  Energize Phoenix aims to create 1,900 to 2,700 new jobs.