ARPA-E, the Department of Energy’s blue-sky technology research outfit, hasn’t yet funded any research projects that can be considered “home run” successes. For example, it hasn’t created the internet -- an achievement for which the agency it’s modeled on, DARPA, can claim credit.

But that doesn’t mean that the projects ARPA-E has funded aren’t finding some success in moving from government-backed R&D into more commercial-ready (and private-investment-ready) forms. Given that the agency is facing a potential battle in Congress over its 2013 budget request and reauthorization, now is probably a good time to publicize some of those successes.

That’s the latest news from the 2013 ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit in Washington, D.C. this week, where the agency has just announced some updated figures for how its grant-winning projects are doing in raising private capital. To date, seventeen projects awarded a collective $70 million from ARPA-E have attracted more than $450 million in private sector follow-on investment, the agency reported.

That’s not too bad for a group of projects deemed too risky or uncertain to attract traditional private investment. Of course, it’s important to remember that those seventeen projects are a small subset of the more than 280 projects that ARPA-E has funded to date with a combined $770 million in awards.

Still, as ARPA-E Deputy Director Cheryl Martin told reporters in a Tuesday press conference at the summit, it’s a nice reflection on the program’s ability to fund projects that have a path toward commercialization, as well as to meet its mandate to fund technologies that can eventually be deployed to meet real-world energy needs.

Here’s a list of the ARPA-E projects that have also won private investment so far, along with a brief description and what ARPA-E program they’re funded under:


Engineering Enzymes in Energy Crops (Open 2009)

OPX Biotechnologies

Engineering Bacteria for Efficient Fuel Production (Electrofuels)

Sion Power Corporation

Lithium-Sulfur Batteries (BEEST)

Fluidic Energy Inc.

High-Power Zinc-Air Energy Storage (GRIDS)

AutoGrid, Inc.

Integration of Renewables Via Demand Management (GENI)

QM Power

Efficient, High-torque Electric Vehicle Motor (REACT)

Phononic Devices

Improved Thermoelectric Devices (Open 2009)

Primus Power

Advanced Flow Battery Electrodes (GRIDS)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Electroville: Grid-Scale Batteries (Open 2009)

Stanford University

The All-Electron Battery: a quantum leap forward in energy storage (BEEST)


Transistors for Electric Motor Drives (ADEPT)

1366 Technologies

Cost-Effective Silicon Wafers for Solar Cells (Open 2009)

Envia Systems

Long-Range Electric Vehicle Batteries (Open 2009)

FloDesign Wind Turbine Corp.

Mixer-Ejector Wind Turbine (Open 2009)

Sun Catalytix

Energy from Water and Sunlight (Open 2009)

General Compression

Fuel-Free Compressed-Air Energy Storage (GRIDS)

24M Technologies

Semi-solid Flowable Battery Electrodes (BEEST)


We’ve covered several of these startups and their fundraising efforts, including smart grid big data startup AutoGrid, which raised $9 million late last year; biochemicals startup OPX Biotechnologies, which raised  $17.5 million in 2009 and $36.5 million in 2011; battery maker Sion Power, which raised $50 million in late 2011; thermoelectric materials startup Phononic Devices, which raised $10 million in 2011; gallium nitride power conversion startup Transphorm, which raised $35 million last year; silicon manufacturing startup 1366 Technologies, which has raised $49 million; and compressed air energy storage startup General Compression, which raised $54.5 million in 2011.

Beyond the ARPA-E projects winning private financing, another twelve award-winners have created new companies out of their R&D work, and ten have partnered with other government agencies for later-stage investment.

In the meantime, ARPA-E is still awaiting several political milestones that could have a big impact on its future. Later this year, the agency will face reauthorization from Congress to continue to do its work, and it’s also awaiting congressional action on its request for $350 million for its fiscal year 2013 budget -- more than its 2011 budget of $180 million and 2012 budget of $275 million, though less than the initial $400 million budget it was given when it was created as part of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009.

Martin told reporters that she was optimistic about Congress coming through with reauthorization and a budget commensurate with the agency’s needs, noting that ARPA-E has enjoyed bipartisan support. But the Republican-controlled House of Representatives has already moved to push down the agency’s funding last year.