Rohit Shukla spoke to three journalists in July about some of the most pressing issues in early-stage funding, and the reception science is getting in the current administration. In June, he spoke to Fast Company about the challenges energy/climate change companies face these days. The market is conservative, which means large energy companies are going to look to technologies that are proven vs. technologies that are possible, leaving startups in a no-man’s land for funding.
“Who fills that gap is the real issue,” Shukla tells Fast Company. “There’s so much good science coming out from universities or smaller companies. And yet there’s no particular support for the first phases of bringing that technology to a particular point so that they then become acceptable and worthwhile for larger companies to invest in.”
US politics is taking steps to muzzle science
Sustainable Brands ran a piece on the effect of the US pulling out of the Paris Accord and interviewed Rohit for his unique perspective. The administration’s plans to downsize the EPA’s funding by a third, and slashing funding for renewable energy R&D by 70% paints a grim picture for a country that was once a world leader in science funding.
“It’s fairly clear that U.S. industry is much farther ahead than the government,” he said. “U.S. innovation and leadership in these specific areas are quite high, quite far ahead. And so those companies are going to continue to engage at the international and national level.”
He warned that such actions could result in a push towards a specific kind of politics that muzzles science: “This is consistent with a general skepticism around science from people who are not scientists. It’s fine to be skeptical, it’s important to be skeptical, but it is not okay to be skeptical without evidence of any kind.”
Telling Sustainable Stories May Increase Funding
Later in July, Environmental Leader also interviewed Rohit in a roundup of opinions of business leaders in environmental management. Rohit made the case that sustainable energy is at a point where it can be a genuine business driver.
“Corporate folks in particular are looking to establish business lines that may not be equivalent to what they’ve developed before in terms of business. For example, Mobil is building its own algae farms, to milk algae for biofuels. Regardless of what their prospects might be for extraction for fossil fuels, there is a real business case to be made to ensure a continued supply of fuel.”