The investment community has clearly identified alternative energy as the investment of choice during the past two years. Utility companies, such as APS, are investing heavily in renewable energy. ASU has made significant investments in alternative energy resources and expertise. This has not gone unnoticed among industry participants. Over the past 5 years, ASU has won over $80M in renewable energy research awards. Nearly 25 percent of that funding came from industry—higher than the university-wide average of 5-10 percent—with over 100 companies participating.
ASU also has the opportunity to leverage its reputation in testing. Successful programs exist in both algae and photovoltaics. Beyond just engaging companies for testing, the value of the model is that it represents a feeder to engage in sponsored research. ASU can also establish industry standards—a growing issue, particularly for photovoltaics.
ASU has a growing intellectual property portfolio and high research productivity. This intellectual capacity could represent a strong source of innovation for economic growth, especially if the university can enable industry to invest and hire.
ASU has solid programs in alternative energy curriculum that range from vocational training to master's level programs. At both the university level, and in the engineering school, strong online infrastructure and programs exists that could be leveraged to reach a wide audience. There is existing interest in such programs, especially in Asia and from industry partners. Siemens, for example, has training programs for sales and marketing, but not for research.
Industry views priorities among research, education, and industry hiring as equal and inter-related. ASU has solid platforms in all. There is a compelling opportunity to partner with industry thought leaders in a meaningful way to advance the industry and create an energy ecosystem with widespread benefits to all participants and a pathway to commercialization of the resulting technology.