WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), along with U.S. House Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representative Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), today introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to establish a nonprofit foundation for the U.S. Department of Energy that would channel private-sector investments and accelerate the commercialization of innovative technologies in energy.

Research and development (R&D) drives innovation and accounts for nearly 7% of the United States real GDP growth. However, recent declines in research funding have jeopardized U.S. economic competitiveness. For example, from 2008 to 2013, venture capital funding in energy startups fell by 60% and resulted in a steep decline in the development of these important startup companies. Unlike other sectors, the energy sector has several unique challenges to innovation including requiring high capital needs, long development times, the need to overcome incumbent technologies, and operating within a shifting regulatory environment. Addressing these challenges requires partnerships with government, industry, startups, and outside funding organizations.

This bill establishes a nonprofit foundation to engage with the private sector to raise funds that support the creation, development, and commercialization of innovative technologies that address tomorrow’s energy challenges.

“The IMPACT for Energy Act would bolster efforts to support private-sector investment, accelerate commercialization by facilitating public-private partnerships and prize competitions, and would serve as an agent in convening industry leaders and other stakeholders to collaborate, share ideas, and solve some of your most complex and challenging problems,” said Senator Coons. “I am proud to introduce this bill with Senator Graham and my co-authors in the House that helps drive innovation in the energy sector and helps bring the next generation of energy technologies.” 

“Investing in research and development – particularly as it pertains to energy – is a no-brainer. The IMPACT for Energy Act would allow the Department of Energy to partner with the private sector, creating a unique opportunity for innovation. I was proud to work with my long-time friend and colleague Congressman Joe Wilson from South Carolina, along with Senator Coons, and Congressman Luján, on this important legislation,” said Senator Graham.  “Our bill will help foster new ideas and partnerships to keep America on the cutting edge of economic and technological developments.” 

"The non-profit foundation created by this legislation will help organize and connect diverse partners from government, industry and the venture capital to spur innovative technologies to address our country's energy challenges, including the need to invest in renewable energy sources as we propose bold solutions to the climate crisis," said U.S. House Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Luján. "Similar foundations at the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have all demonstrated success in funding cutting-edge research and innovation, and I'm confident a Department of Energy foundation will help us tackle the energy challenges of both today and tomorrow." 

“Private-public partnerships are critical for innovation and development of new technologies to address the needs of America’s energy industry,” said Rep. Wilson. “I am grateful to partner with Congressman Ben Ray Luján and Senators Chris Coons and Lindsey Graham to support The IMPACT for Energy Act to create an avenue for private investment and federal assistance for energy expansion.”

The Increasing and Mobilizing Partnerships to Achieve Commercialization of Technologies (IMPACT) for Energy Act would:

  • Support private-sector investment.  Provides a mechanism to channel private-sector investment into commercializing energy technology. 
  • Accelerate commercialization.  Facilitates public-private partnerships and encourages new ideas such as increased regional economic development and prize competitions.
  • Convene industry leaders.  Supports events, briefings, and symposia to create a forum for stakeholders to share ideas and collaborate on complex energy problems.   

The House version of the bill is also cosponsored by Representatives Lipinksi (D-IL), Reed (R-NY), Swalwell (D-CA), Fortenberry (R-NE), Tonko (D-NY), Fleischmann (R-TN), McNerney (D-CA), Bilirakis (R-FL), Casten (D-IL), McKinley (R-WV), Sensenbrenner (R-WI), and Fitzpatrick (R-PA). 

The bill text can be found here

A one-pager on the bill can be found here.   

Supportive quotes for the IMPACT for Energy Act

“APLU applauds Senators Coons and Graham and Congressmen Luján and Wilson for introducing the IMPACT for Energy Act. This bill would help accelerate the transfer of groundbreaking technologies from university labs to market, helping to power the U.S. economy forward and strengthening the nation’s position in the global economy.”

Peter McPherson, President of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities

“AAU applauds Senators Coons and Graham and Representatives Luján and Wilson for reintroducing the IMPACT for Energy Act. This bill would facilitate critical public-private partnerships and bolster our nation’s ability to lead the world in cutting-edge research and innovation.”

Mary Sue Coleman, President, Association of American Universities

“I thank Senators Coons and Graham and Congressmen Luján and Wilson for their leadership in establishing the IMPACT for Energy Foundation. The program enables more DOE-funded research to reach the marketplace and aid entrepreneurs at the Science Center and beyond in bringing their energy innovations to market.” 

Stephen T. Zarrilli, President and CEO of the University City Science Center.

“Federal investment and support are vital for the energy innovation we need to tackle climate change and reassert US leadership in the global energy market. The IMPACT for Energy Act will enable private public partnerships to more quickly deploy cutting edge clean energy technologies, build on existing best-practices already in place at the Department of Energy, and facilitate workforce development. We hope this bipartisan, bicameral bill will be quickly enacted.”

Josh Freed, Senior Vice President for Clean Energy, Third Way

“The clean energy foundation proposed by Senators Coons and Graham and Representatives Luján and Wilson is an innovative and cost-effective way to drive important investments in energy research and development. BPC’s American Energy Innovation Council recommended a similar approach to foster public and private collaboration to accelerate energy innovation. I am pleased to see members of Congress working together to advance this important and creative idea.” 

Michele Stockwell, BPC Action Executive Director

“The Energy Department, collaborating with the private sector, has an enormous record of success in helping to develop energy-saving technologies we rely on today. This bill would give a further boost to the Department’s vital efforts and help the U.S. continue to be a leader in advancing energy innovation.”

Jason Hartke, President, Alliance to Save Energy

“The IMPACT for Energy Act would accelerate energy innovation and increase the return that the nation receives from its investments in federal science and technology”

David M. Hart, Senior Fellow, Energy Innovation Policy, Information Technology and Innovation


"The United States has benefited greatly from federally funded R&D, but we are in a new era where science alone cannot meet the great challenges of our time. The creation of a DOE Foundation will strengthen our R&D system by leveraging additional funding sources as well as new public private partnership models to accelerate the commercialization of new technology into the market."

Jetta Wong, President of JLW Advising and former Director of Technology Transitions, DOE 

“The need for public-private collaboration to address climate change has never been clearer. The IMPACT for Energy Act would provide an important avenue for that collaboration, driving private sector investment and accelerating the development and deployment of technologies critical to solving the climate challenge.”

Bob Perciasepe, President, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions