[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 15 (Wednesday, January 25, 2017)]
[Pages 8412-8414]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-01694]



Notice of Request for Information (RFI) on Fostering Energy 
Innovation Ecosystems

AGENCY: Office of the Under Secretary for Science and Energy, 
Department of Energy (DOE).

ACTION: Request for Information (RFI).


SUMMARY: The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) invites public comment on 
this Request for Information (RFI) regarding regional innovation 
ecosystems and regional cooperation. The purpose of this RFI is to 
support a public discussion about how to create and foster regional and 
local ``innovation ecosystems,'' specifically for energy technologies 
and energy use. DOE is establishing through this RFI a temporary public 
``ideation'' tool to serve as a resource of ideas for individuals and 
organizations interested in promoting regional innovation ecosystems.

DATES: Written comments and information are requested on or before 
February 28, 2017.

ADDRESSES: Interested parties should submit their comments using the 
IdeaBuzz.com platform at: https://ideabuzz.com/a/buzz/challenge/19113/ideas/top. Rules and guidelines for the Web-based tool can be found 
there, along with background information, the suggested topics included 
in this RFI, and opportunities to post ideas and to review, comment on, 
and ``vote for'' ideas submitted by other people.
    The public can view the submitted ideas and comments without 
creating a user-name on the IdeaBuzz platform, but IdeaBuzz does 
require users to register a user-name in order to participate (submit 
ideas, comment, and ``vote''). DOE employees may not submit comments 
via this platform. DOE will not respond to individual submissions and 
may or may not publish a compendium of responses.

Energy, Office of the Under Secretary for Science and Energy (S4-1), 
1000 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20585. Telephone: 202-586-
2600, email: [email protected]


I. Background
II. Purpose
III. Request for Information Suggested Topics
IV. Confidential Information

I. Background

    DOE is interested in understanding and fostering self-sustaining 
local and

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regional energy ``innovation ecosystems'' \1\ that bring together all 
the factors needed to translate research and ideas into successful new 
products and services, whether through start-up companies or new 
products and business lines in existing companies.

    \1\ Much has been written about innovation ecosystems, 
innovation clusters, industry clusters, and related concepts. The 
following links are only an illustrative sample: http://erc-assoc.org/sites/default/files/topics/policy_studies/DJackson_Innovation%20Ecosystem_03-15-11.pdf (National Science 
Foundation, 3/15/2011); http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/623971467998460024/pdf/100899-REVISED-WP-PUBLIC-Box393259B-Tech-Innovation-Ecosystems.pdf (World Bank, 1/11/2015); http://www.innovationmanagement.se/2011/05/16/what-are-innovation-ecosystems-and-how-to-build-and-use-them/ (InnovationManagement.se 
blog, 5/16/2011); http://masstech.org/innovation-ecosystem 
(Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, undated).

    The value of a regional focus to promote innovation, economic 
development, and job-creation is widely recognized. For example, a 
decade ago, the Council on Competitiveness reported that ``although 
national and state policies create a platform for innovation, the locus 
of innovative activities is at the regional level, where workers, 
companies, universities, research institutions and government interface 
most directly . . . Regions are the building blocks of national 
innovation capacity because they offer proximity and can provide 
specialized assets that foster firm-level differentiation.'' \2\ A 2011 
report from Jobs for the Future identified a need for ``structures at 
the regional level to bring together key leaders from across public, 
private, and nonprofit sectors to formulate growth strategies that make 
the best use of regions' competitive assets.'' \3\ And in 2012, the 
National Research Council's Committee on Comparative National 
Innovation Policies made several observations \4\ that speak directly 
to the value of regional innovation ecosystems and regional 

    \2\ Regional Innovation: National Prosperity, Summary Report of 
the Regional Competitiveness Initiative & Proceedings of the 2005 
National Summit on Regional Innovation, Council on Competitiveness, 
February 2006, http://www.compete.org/storage/images/uploads/File/PDFFiles/RegionalInnovationNationalProsperity.pdf.
    \3\ P. Carlson, R. Holm, and R. Uhalde, Building Regional 
Partnerships for Economic Growth and Opportunity, Jobs for the 
Future, 2011, www.jff.org/sites/default/files/publications/Building_Regional_paper_020211.pdf.
    \4\ C.W. Wessner and A.W. Wolff, eds., Rising to the Challenge: 
U.S. Innovation Policy for the Global Economy, National Academies 
Press, 2012, https://www.nap.edu/read/13386/chapter/1.

     Historically, federally funded R&D has not been connected 
to state and regional industrial development; bridging that gap can 
create the local talent and technology base needed to convert these 
U.S. investments into domestic companies, industries, and jobs.
     Private businesses and local education institutions and 
economic development agencies are in the best position to identify 
opportunities, gauge competitive strengths, and mobilize wide community 
support for regional cluster initiatives.
     Regional innovation cluster initiatives should be built 
upon existing knowledge clusters and comparative strengths of each 
geographic region.
    Also, recent reviews of the capabilities of DOE's National 
Laboratories have strongly encouraged the laboratories to broaden their 
participation in regional innovation ecosystems.5 6 This was 
supported by what DOE officials heard about varying regional energy 
concerns and capabilities--and interest in national laboratory 
capabilities--as they participated in a series of university-hosted 
events during the spring and summer of 2016.\7\

    \5\ S. Andes, M. Muro, and M. Stepp, Going Local: Connecting the 
National Labs to their Regions to Maximize Innovation and Growth, 
Advanced Industries Series, Brookings/ITIF/CCEI, September 2014, 
    \6\ T.J. Glauthier and J.L. Cohon, co-chairs, Securing America's 
Future: Realizing the Potential of the Department of Energy's 
National Laboratories. Final Report of the Commission to Review the 
Effectiveness of the National Energy Laboratories, Vol. 1, October 
2015, http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2015/10/f27/FinalReportVolume1.pdf.
    \7\ Information and a report on the events can be found at 

II. Purpose

    Based on the background above and on the broad range of ideas heard 
from university, State, and industry participants at the recent 
university-hosted events, DOE believes that there is much more yet to 
be said by the broader public, which could benefit all interested 
parties, including State and local governments, universities, policy 
groups, companies, and national organizations.
    As a result, DOE is making this temporary ideation and knowledge-
sharing tool available as a national ``town hall'' to support a public 
dialogue on regional energy innovation and innovation ecosystems. The 
ideation tool suggests a number of potentially fruitful topic areas for 
suggestions and ideas, although any ideas relating to innovation 
ecosystems and to local and regional collaboration to support 
innovation are welcome.

III. Request for Information Suggested Topics

    This RFI and its associated web-based ideation tool does not 
require responses to all of the suggested topics, and would encourage 
all interested entities/individuals to offer ideas and comments in any 
of the topic areas, or in new topic areas where relevant. In general, 
the web-based ideation will work best when ideas regarding different 
topics are submitted individually, rather than bundling multiple ideas 
into a single submission.

Suggested Topics

    The following topics and questions may guide--but should not 
restrict--ideas, suggestions, and comments submitted using the IdeaBuzz 
ideation Web site:
    1. Key Elements of an Innovation Ecosystem: What are the essential 
``puzzle pieces'' or ``moving parts'' that make up a successful, self-
sustaining innovation ecosystem or technology ``cluster''? They include 
businesses, educational institutions, research centers, people, 
policies, and financial resources--but are there specific sub-types of 
those categories that are especially important or frequently 
overlooked? Are there other categories of regional assets that are 
important as well?
    2. Ecosystem Sustainability: Which of those key elements are most 
important for supporting the start-up of new businesses? Which are most 
important to make sure that the innovation ecosystem itself is self-
sustaining and enduring? Are there supply-chain considerations that are 
often overlooked?
    3. Economic Benefits: Which of those key elements are most 
important for supporting workforce development as part of the 
ecosystem? Which are crucial to accelerating the innovation cycle?
    4. Performance Metrics: What identifiable metrics would provide 
useful measures of the economic or innovation impact of efforts to 
promote a regional energy innovation ecosystem?
    5. Regional Gaps: Are there specific ``ecosystem'' components that 
are missing from a geographic region you're interested in? (Indicate 
region.) How could that region fill the gaps?
    6. Geographic Scales and Defining a ``Region'': Most existing 
examples of innovation ecosystems and industry or technology clusters 
are fairly local or metropolitan in scale--meetings and site visits 
aren't more than an hour or two drive away. But energy concerns, 
challenges, and resources are often shared across a much larger 

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region. How should regional strategies or coalitions try to bridge 
those geographic scales? The university-hosted events that DOE attended 
defined their ``regions'' in different ways--how should a regional 
energy cluster or innovation ecosystem define its scope or boundaries?
    7. Cooperating Regionally: If local or regional organizations want 
to collaborate to help foster or enhance a regional energy innovation 
ecosystem, how should they organize or collaborate? Does the answer 
differ depending on geographic scale?
    8. Regional Opportunities: What are the energy challenges, 
resources, or technologies that offer the most innovation opportunity 
to your region? (Identify region.) What would be the greatest strengths 
or weaknesses of your region in trying to create or enhance an energy 
innovation ecosystem?
    9. References and Models: Recommend references, studies, data 
sources, or models (including foreign innovation centers).

IV. Confidential Information

    Because all idea and comments submissions are publicly visible, 
respondents are strongly advised to not include any information in 
their responses that might be considered business sensitive, 
proprietary, or otherwise confidential. Because the IdeaBuzz platform 
is not a government Web site, DOE is not able to provide any 
confidentiality protections for ideas submitted on the IdeaBuzz 

    Issued in Washington, DC, on January 18, 2017.
Franklin M. Orr, Jr.,
Under Secretary for Science and Energy.
[FR Doc. 2017-01694 Filed 1-24-17; 8:45 am]