Opportunities in Solar Research and Entrepreneurship

Opportunities in Solar Research and Entrepreneurship
Thursday, April 23, 2020 - 2:30pm
Dr. Charlie Gay (Former Director DOE SETO)
Abstract / Description: 

Renewable energy generation, storage and energy efficiency are being rapidly integrated into our digitized buildings, transportation system and electric grid. Exponentially expanding opportunities for entrepreneurs to commercialize new products are blossoming. This talk will highlight examples of the wide-ranging resources available to help start-up initiatives accelerate cycles of learning and bring innovations to market. Some specific resources to be reviewed include:

  • Stanford's TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy Innovation Transfer
  • The NSF I-Corps Program adapted from Steve Blank's Stanford Lean LaunchPad class
  • The Elemental Accelerator in East Palo Alto
  • Emily Kirsch's PowerHouse Incubator and PowerHouse Ventures in Oakland
  • Cyclotron Road at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
  • The National Renewable Energy Laboratory Industry Growth Forum and Innovation Incubator
  • The Department of Energy Solar Prize
  • Dorothy Jones-Davis' Nation of Makers
  • The American-Made Partner Network


Dr. Charlie Gay has 45 years of experience in solar and renewable energy. Currently, he serves on the Sandia National Laboratory Energy and Homeland Security External Advisory Board and on the Advisory Panel for the Australian Renewable Energy Agency. In November 2019 he retired from his position as Director of the Department of Energy's Solar Energy Technologies Office where he crafted the American-Made Challenges Prize Competition to accelerate technology transition from research lab to commercial products. In the mid-1990s Dr. Gay served as Director of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory where he created the Industry Growth Forum, which is conducting the 32nd round of connecting entrepreneurs with the investment community this month. Since 2013, he has been an advisor to Stanford's TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy Innovation Transfer.

Dr. Gay has been president of Applied Solar for Applied Materials, chairman of the technology advisory board for SunPower Corp, president and chief executive officer of ASE Americas, managing director and co-founder of UNISUN, president and chief operating officer of Siemens Solar Industries, and president of ARCO Solar. Dr. Gay also created the Greenstar Foundation, an organization that delivers solar power and internet access to communities in the developing world. He has advised and continues to advise many renewable energy startup companies. Dr. Gay has a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of California, Riverside. He won the Gold Medal for Achievement from the World Renewable Energy Congress in 1996 and was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Engineering in 2013.