The Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA–E), the 10-year-old Department of Energy program designed to foster high-risk clean-energy technologies, has had limited success in moving them toward commercialization, according to a recently published study. But ARPA–E managers, former program officials, and even the lead author of the study agree that the program is performing as it was intended in advancing potentially game-changing solutions for decarbonizing energy. Additional government programs and market incentives are needed, they say, to attract the investments that will bring those innovations to market.

Anna Goldstein of the University of Massachusetts Amherst and colleagues compared the success of 25 startups, all part of the initial 2010 cohort of 60 ARPA–E awardees, to 1262 other cleantech startups of the same age. The researchers used acquisitions by other companies, initial public offerings, survival through 2019, and the amount of venture capital (VC) raised through 2017 as indicators of successful business...

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