Modeled after DARPA, the agency seeks to fund research into long-shot technologies, such as advanced batteries or algae-based biofuels that might one day prove useful for tackling climate change and other energy challenges. Private companies often lack the patience to invest in high-risk ideas that may take years to pay off or fail altogether.
ARPA-E aims to bridge the gap between scientists in the lab and entrepreneurs in the marketplace at pivotal moments in the lifecycle of emerging energy technologies. Gates notes that ARPA-E is bringing private investors to the table, having already resulted in the creation of 56 new companies.
The fate of ARPA-E is currently uncertain. President Trump’s 2018 fiscal year budget abolishes the agency entirely, but his proposal has been met with considerable resistance.