Intersector collaboration advances algae-based technologies

Government, non-profit, and industry groups partner to create one-of-a-kind testbed

blog_image_AzcatiAn innovative collaboration among the U.S. Department of Energy; Arizona State University (ASU); and scientists, engineers, and business leaders is accelerating the development of algae-based technologies, which stakeholders have long looked to as a potential source of environmentally friendly fuel.

The partnership, led by the Arizona Center for Algae Technology and Innovation at ASU and funded through a $15 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, has produced the Algae Testbed Public Private Partnership (ATP3). ATP3’s focus has been to create an open test bed through which researchers from academia and industry alike can innovate — “a hub for research and commercialization.” The broad array of collaboration partners includes not only government and ASU but also industry groups like Cellana, Sandia National Laboratories, and Valicor Renewables.

The partnership illustrates several successful tactics highlighted in The Intersector Project Toolkit. Share a Vision of Success, which refers to agreement among collaboration partners on a set of project goals and ideal outcomes that clarify the mission and priorities of the collaboration, is clearly exemplified in the case of ATP3. Here, cross-sector partners with different work practices, governance structures, and profit motivations have joined together around a common mission: to innovate, create knowledge, and accelerate the growth of the emergent algal energy industry. Defining a common purpose links stakeholders together and creates a mutual understanding of the benefits of success. ATP3 is also an example of the tool, Identify a Manager, which refers to distinguishing an individual or organization that is responsible for coordinating tasks that allow the collaboration to progress. In this case, ATP3 is the management organization created through the investment of partners and is responsible for managing the day-to-day activities of the testbed. Having a single person, a body of managers, or an organization who will act as a single point of accountability, and can ensure structure and instill confidence in the collaborative process.