Innovation needs information -- the medical innovation model
The goal of energy transformation can take a lesson from America's rapid deployment of innovative medical technologies. It may take a long time to get a new drug or device approved, but once this happens the deployment is very rapid. America's spectacular success in fielding new medical technologies is anchored in the innovative Web resources of the National Library of Medicine. For a modest $350 million a year NLM supplies vast amounts of innovation information to America's scientists, doctors and consumers.
The need to know about energy innovations is equally vast, but there is no engine of change comparable to NLM. Scientists, engineers, product manufacturers, retailers, consumers, even children, have a need to know about new energy technologies. Everyone from scientist to second grader, because energy technology is far more pervasive than medical technology. Information is also an antidote to hype. But there is no National Library of Energy to do for energy innovation what NLM does for medicine.
The Department of Energy does have a miniature version of NLM, in its Office of Scientific and Technical Information or OSTI. In fact OSTI has been a pioneer in developing new ways to deliver energy information via the Web. But OSTI's budget is a modest $9 million, compared to NLM's $350 million. So DOE does just 3% of what NLM does.
What we need is a National Library of Energy, at a scale comparable to the National Library of Medicine, doing the job of deploying energy innovation.
1. "Mapping Technology Chaos" in Power Magazine, March 2007.
2. National Library of Medicine
3. DOE Office of Scientific and Technical Information
4. "Making the Web work for Science"
David Wojick, Ph.D.
Senior consultant for Innovation