LAUNCH: Energy Forum -- An Update From Mission Control

November 12, 2011
Launch Control Center at NASA Kennedy Space Center

During the first day of the LAUNCH: Energy Forum, innovators from around the world gathered in one of NASA's Mission Control Rooms to present their energy-related technologies. In the audience, I was joined by more than 30 government and business leaders from the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the private sector.

The day began with interactive presentations from five of the top ten innovators:

Point Source Power: Craig Jacobsen presented an innovative fuel cell technology that will create electricity while cooking with biomass-fueled cookstoves.

Powerzoa: Jamie Simon shared her team's idea for a system that allows facilities to easily measure, manage, and control electricity consumption.

ITN Energy Systems: Ashu Misra discussed his team's thin, flexible material that enables active and intelligent heat and light management that minimizes energy use within buildings.

Thermofluidics: Mark Bryant shared his group's new range of pumping devices that use low-temperature heat to generate fluid motion with very few moving parts.

Gram Power: Yashraj Khaitan presented his idea for using smart microgrids to provide reliable and scalable electrical power to underserved populations in the developing world.

Following these presentations, the group broke into "impact rotations," during which each innovator moved around the room in speed dating-like fashion to meet with subgroups of LAUNCH Council Members. The goal for these rotations was to discuss key challenges and opportunities for each program.

I found the impact rotations to be a novel approach for a number of reasons. Each innovator is paired with a moderator and a note taker, and is prompted to begin each discussion with input from previous rotations to prevent duplicative feedback. The moderator guides the conversation so that it is productive and works with the note taker to compile a list of action items during the discussion. After the forum, the moderator works with the innovator to accelerate the process of bringing the product to market.

From today's session it is clear to me that LAUNCH has perfected the formula for these impact rotations -- the discussions were engaging, thoughtful, and extremely productive.

We are all looking forward to the second and final set of presentations and discussions, starting at 9:00 a.m. EST tomorrow, Saturday, November 12, 2011.

To watch the forum live, please visit: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/nasa-ksc. For real-time updates, follow this event on Twitter @launchorg and @GPIAtState, hashtag #LAUNCHenergy.

From November 11-13, the U.S. Department of State is partnering with USAID, NASA, and NIKE, Inc. to host the LAUNCH: Energy Forum at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The LAUNCH program identifies innovations poised to create transformational change in critical sustainability issues, connects innovators to thought leaders, investors and advisors, and then provides strategic guidance post Forum in order to accelerate the implementation of the technologies and projects into the global market. Previous LAUNCH modules in 2010 focused on Water and Health.

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