Sens. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, and Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina; and Reps. Ben Ray Luján, D-New Mexico, and Joe Wilson, R-South Carolina, recently introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to establish a nonprofit foundation for the U.S. Department of Energy that would channel private-sector investments and accelerate the commercialization of innovative technologies in energy.

Research and development drives innovation and accounts for nearly 7 percent of U.S. real GDP growth. However, recent declines in research funding jeopardized U.S. economic competitiveness. For example, from 2008 to 2013, venture capital funding in energy startups fell by 60 percent and resulted in a steep decline in the development of these important startup companies. Unlike other sectors, the energy sector has several unique challenges to innovation including requiring high capital needs, long development times, the need to overcome incumbent technologies and operating within a shifting regulatory environment. Addressing these challenges requires partnerships with government, industry, startups and outside funding organizations.

This bill establishes a nonprofit foundation to engage with the private sector to raise funds that support the creation, development and commercialization of innovative technologies that address energy challenges.

“The IMPACT for Energy Act would bolster efforts to support private-sector investment, accelerate commercialization by facilitating public-private partnerships and prize competitions; and would serve as an agent in convening industry leaders and other stakeholders to collaborate, share ideas and solve some of your most complex and challenging problems,” said Coons. “I am proud to introduce this bill with Sen. Graham and my co-authors in the House that helps drive innovation in the energy sector and helps bring the next generation of energy technologies.”

The Increasing and Mobilizing Partnerships to Achieve Commercialization of Technologies for Energy Act would:

— Support private-sector investment by providing a mechanism to channel private-sector investment into commercializing energy technology.

— Accelerate commercialization by facilitating public-private partnerships and encouraging new ideas such as increased regional economic development and prize competitions.

— Convene industry leaders to support events, briefings and symposia to create a forum for stakeholders to share ideas and collaborate on complex energy problems.

The full text of the bill is available at