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Collaboration Between Start-Ups and Federal Agencies: A Surprising Solution for Energy Innovation

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Originally published at the International Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), this paper explores collaborations between climate-tech start-ups and government partners and how these collaborations enhance start-up patenting and follow-on financing more than comparable collaborations with private firms or universities. The paper finds that policies that foster these collaborations should be strengthened.

Key takeaways: 

  • Successful climate-tech start-ups are urgently needed to meet societal goals, but they face more challenging obstacles than start-ups in other sectors.
  • All collaborations help start-ups overcome these obstacles, but collaborations with government partners yield more favorable results than comparable collaborations with private firms or universities.
  • Start-up patenting activity soars by an average of 74 percent as a result of collaborating with a government agency or laboratory, while each technology license given out by a government agency to a start-up more than doubles its financing deals.
  • The federal effort to facilitate agency-start-up collaborations can be bolstered by scaling up funding, cutting red tape, strengthening incentives for agencies, and improving coordination.
  • If energy innovation policymakers take collaboration seriously, the nation is likely to reap significant rewards.

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