In a profile last week of energy efficiency startup Next Step Living, I wrote about a victory of execution over new technology or intellectual property. Cleantech badly needs more winners in that vein. But it needs new technology breakthroughs, too, especially in areas like energy storage. And those who had the chance to attend MIT’s annual Energy Night on Friday got a look at the cutting edge of energy technology research, hosted at the MIT Museum.
The event featured over 70 research posters by MIT students and faculty—as well as a few startups—across a wide range of technologies, from building systems and energy efficiency to biofuels and nuclear.
I chatted with MIT Energy Club co-president Sam Telleen, an MBA candidate, about the magic of MIT and, in particular, how engineering, science, and business students work collaboratively through the MIT Energy Club. It’s reflective of what seems to be a broader trend at MIT, which insists on devoting attention to the entire innovation life cycle. There are defining research reports on the central technology challenges in a particular space, like those by the MIT Energy Initiative, nights like Friday devoted to showing off research to address those problems, and there are pitch competitions like the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition and countless other entrepreneurial activities designed to take good ideas to market. Especially, but not exclusively, in energy, MIT does it all.
And who else but MIT could make energy research actually seem cool? When I showed up there was a line out the door, right next to this sleek Fisker Karma: