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pattern in the diversity and quality of
the entrepreneurial ideas coming into
our o ces. Scientists do not think more
slowly during recessions. Startup pro-
posals seem better during downturns.
For a model of the pace of innova-
tion, consider Moore's Law---the annual
doubling of computer power or data
storage capacity. As Ray Kurzweil has
plotted, these increased exponentially
from 1890 (with punch-card computing)
to 2010, across countless technologies
and human dramas. Most recently, we
have seen Moore's Law revolutionize the
life sciences, from genomics to medical
imaging, and work its magic in ever big-
ger and more diverse industries.
Technology's nonlinear pace of prog-
ress has created a juggernaut of perpetual
market disruption, spawning wave after
wave of opportunities for new compa-
nies. Without disruption, entrepreneurs,
and VCs like me, would not exist.
During previous recessions, false ora-
cles declared innovation dead because
they did not see any in mature industries
like enterprise software. Predictable
and stable industries resist new entrants.
Entrepreneurs and VCs have to follow
disruption across markets. Many of the
TR50 (p. 33) will no doubt lead the way.
Here are two foundational innovations
to ponder that o er a variety of disrup-
tive opportunities in coming years.
First, 2010 will be the year of the first
scalable quantum computer. (I am an
investor in D-Wave, a startup building
a commercial quantum computer: see
"Riding D-Wave," May/June 2008.) If it
follows "Rose's Law" (named after Geor-
die Rose, a cofounder of D-Wave), annu-
ally doubling qubits for the next 10 years,
it will handily outperform all computers
on the planet combined.
It will also be the year of the first syn-
thetic life form: 100 percent of its DNA
will be made from scratch, from beakers
of chemicals. This will introduce a new
era of intelligent design in biology, in
which technologists will write the code
of life as if it were a computer program.
Energy and chemical giants will experi-
ence the whiplash of Moore's Law, as bio-
tech companies create and test billions of
novel microbial workhorses every day.
I don't accept the gloomy assess-
ment captured by James Surowiecki (see
"What's Wrong with Venture Capital?" p.
74). We haven't seen anything yet.
STEVE JURVETSON IS MANAGING DIRECTOR OF
DRAPER FISHER JURVETSON, A VENTU RE CAPITAL
FIRM IN MENLO PARK, CA.
ARUN MAJUMDAR EXPLAINS
HOW A GOVERNMENT FUND
ING AGENCY AIMS TO SOLVE
THE ENERGY PROBLEM.
Radical innovation can alter the land-
scape of an entire industry. That's
the goal of the newly formed Advanced
Research Projects Agency for Energy,
part of the U.S. Department of Energy.
Modeled after the Defense Advanced
Research Projects Agency (DARPA),
ARPA-E was funded for the first time in
last year's American Recovery and Rein-
vestment Act to pursue transformational
solutions to the energy problem.
ARPA-E was originally proposed in a
National Academies report, Rising Above
the Gathering Storm. Energy Secretary
Steven Chu---then director of the Law-
rence Berkeley National Laboratory---
was part of the committee that proposed
to create a nimble, creative agency.
After President Obama announced this
e ort in April, we received nearly 3,700
submissions. Five hundred expert review-
ers put in nearly 8,700 hours to choose 37
projects---1 percent of the submissions.
The projects were selected through
the most rigorous peer review process
the DOE has engaged in. Secretary Chu
sent a letter to the presidents of major
research universities and the heads of
the engineering societies asking them to
name the best scientists and engineers
in the country. We asked these people to
serve as reviewers, arguing simply that
this work was part of their patriotic duty
to our country and the world.
We are now hiring top practicing scien-
tists and engineers to serve as program
directors. In addition to guiding the proj-
ects, they will seek out additional areas
that are ripe for breakthroughs.
The 37 projects we're funding span the
spectrum---renewable energy, energy
storage, industrial and building e ciency,
petroleum-free vehicles, carbon capture
(for some companies addressing these issues,
see the TR50, p. 33). The ideas are poten-
tially revolutionary. They are risky, and
many of them will fail. But this is high-
risk, high-reward research: if one or two
ideas lead to transformative technologies,
it will be among the best investments
we've ever made.
We are determined to attract the best
and brightest minds to solving the energy
problem. This is truly the scientific and
engineering challenge of our time. Sci-
entists and engineers have come to our
nation's aid in past times of need, and it is
time for them to do so again.
The stakes could not be higher. Great
ideas have transformed our world before.
But new great ideas on energy might do
more than just change our world---they
might help save it.
ARUN MAJUMDAR WAS APPOINTED DIRECTOR OF
ARPA E IN OCTOBER 2009.
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