Renewable Energy Advancements

MIT Launches Another Patent Machine

Written by Brian Hicks
Posted April 24, 2008

I wish you could buy stock in universities.

Not that I want to turn higher education into any more of a business than it already is, but tell me, is there any more appetizing way to help develop the ideas that move renewable energy advancements?

Colleges across this country, from North Carolina's Appalachian State to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have their act together, creating laboratories and conducting research that keeps them on the leading edge of the transitional energy economy.

I've been especially bullish on Boston-based MIT, not only for its prestigious reputation but because the school is aggressive about putting knowledge into action.

MIT's key role in the Masdar zero-emission city project in the United Arab Emirates really caught my eye...

Masdar, meaning "source" in Arabic, is a plan for 50,000 people to live in an entirely energy-contained community just outside of Abu Dhabi. MIT is in on the ground floor of the project, getting what amounts to be the biggest petri dish on the planet.

Masdar is now under construction with $15 billion in funding from the Abu Dhabi government, making it the largest sustainability initiative ever.

The Masdar Institute, to be constructed on the new city site, will feature MIT faculty and interdisciplinary programs that constantly evaluate and improve the reality of life in town, while extracting lessons for future state and private planners.

However, the construction of Masdar is not expected to finish until 2016... That's a long time to wait, even for a city full of the newest technology, and it's a long way from most of the world.

That's why I'm glad MIT is also moving forward on another front—affordable solar energy.

MIT Solar Project Launches

With a $10 million gift, the Solar Revolution Project at MIT will pioneer material and connection clean energy technology that brings costs down while increasing efficiency.

Capture, conversion, and storage are the three pillars of the planned SRP research, which will in turn, make up part of MIT's broader $100 million Energy Initiative project.

As the Chesonis Family Foundation, which gave the $10 million SRP gift, said in a statement:

By investing in the people at MIT and giving them the freedom to take risks in the lab, we will enable them to be true game-changers-advancing the state of the art to a point where solar power is cheaper and more reliable than electricity from coal.

Of course, MIT is in a place where most companies will never find themselves—they have free money and free rein to hatch ideas and develop them without accounting to shareholders.

Abu Dhabi doesn't have any EPS targets to meet, either, which is why we're looking to the deep pockets of Persian Gulf emirs as an unlikely source for fossil-free energy technology.

Either way, it's clear that IPO companies aren't the only source for solutions. As an investor that may frustrate you, but consider that Abu Dhabi also hosted the first World Future Energy Summit this January, bringing together thousands of participants and hundreds of companies that are licking their lips at a chance to prove their technology in Masdar City.

And MIT? Well, campus press says that school alone is responsible for thousands of patents that have been licensed to companies since 1980. The school's innovations are estimated to add close to $1 billion to the economy, or about $1 million per patent per year.

There is plenty of business to be done.

Kind regards,


Sam Hopkins

By the way... I'm partial to profits, and I'm not content to sit on the sidelines waiting for Masdar to finish or wait for a new American revolution to launch in Boston. That's why your Green Chip editors are scouring the world for TODAY's energy profits, and delivering big-time gains with Green Chip International. In fact, our two most recent picks are up big, and the rest of the portfolio is ready to break out. To learn more, click here.