Policy Solutions

Corporate Focus Areas

Research and Development
Corporate

Today’s clean technologies have some potential to bend the carbon-emissions curve—but new, better, and cheaper green technologies are a key component of any realistic plan to achieve a net-zero-emissions economy by 2050. In other words, accelerated clean energy innovation is a fundamental component of halting climate change and limiting the rise of global temperatures.

Private-sector investment in research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) is key to achieving this accelerated innovation. Private sector RD&D supports economic growth, drives down costs for key technologies, and promotes corporate leadership on clean energy and climate.

Corporations tend to use one of three models in their approach to RD&D: the internal model, the leveraged-resource model, and the collaborative model.

  • The internal model of RD&D refers to technologies that companies develop for themselves to help meet their corporate priorities.
  • The leveraged-resource model of RD&D addresses key corporate priorities using funding, facilities, and expertise from external organizations. This type of RD&D often takes the form of sponsored research, cost-sharing with the public sector, or collaboration with incubators and accelerators.
  • Finally, the collaborative model of RD&D relies on partnerships among multiple different stakeholders. Unlike the leveraged-resource model in which key priorities come from just one company, collaborative RD&D is designed to meet the goals of multiple partners. This type of RD&D often takes the form of collaborative incubators, accelerators, fellowships, or third-party prizes.

Engaging Across the Innovation Cycle

Companies can also engage in RD&D at different stages of technological development. The following case studies evaluate technologies across three phases of development:

Applied R&D

When there is a key challenge that must be addressed through innovation, but the right solution has not yet been identified, applied R&D can help companies develop new technologies that can differentiate them from competitors.

Translational R&D

When a new technology seems to show significant potential for addressing a key corporate challenge, translational R&D can improve its performance and reduce costs to boost its commercial viability.

Validation and Early Deployment

When a technology meets criteria for performance and cost but has not yet been tested at scale, validation and early deployment can demonstrate its viability under real-world conditions.

Internal Model

In the private sector, the internal model of RD&D refers to technologies that companies develop for themselves to help meet their corporate priorities.

Applied R&D

Invest in internal applied R&D to provide a strong foundation for scaling low-carbon solutions.

Translational R&D

Establish an internal RD&D testbed to accelerate innovation on an industrial scale.

Validation & Early Deployment

Leverage a center of excellence to accelerate innovation and disruption.

Leveraged-Resource Model

The leveraged-resource model of RD&D addresses key corporate priorities using funding, facilities, and expertise from external organizations. This type of RD&D often takes the form of sponsored research, cost-sharing with the public sector, or collaboration with incubators and accelerators.

Applied R&D

Develop a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) to take advantage of resources and expertise at National Laboratories and research facilities.

Translational R&D

Leverage user facilities at one of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s National Labs or research facilities.

Use resources and expertise from an accelerator to identify solutions for key technology challenges.

Validation and Early Deployment

Fund innovative pilots or demonstration projects with external support.

Collaborative Model

The collaborative model of RD&D relies on partnerships among multiple different stakeholders. Unlike the leveraged-resource model, in which key priorities come from just one company, collaborative RD&D is designed to meet the goals of multiple partners. This type of RD&D often takes the form of collaborative incubators, accelerators, fellowships, or third-party prizes.

Applied R&D

Collaborate with other corporations to source and support innovative solutions.

Translational R&D

Collaborate with incubators to inform and develop technologies that address key corporate priorities.

Validation and Early Deployment

Establish centers of excellence with key technology partners to accelerate innovations.

RD&D Deep Dives

Accelerating Corporate RD&D