Why an energy storage competition?

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

“Everyone here has the sense that right now is one of those moments when we are influencing the future.”

“The best way to predict the future is to make it yourself.”

The future is a funny thing. There's a lot about it that I'd like to sink my teeth into, but, given that science has yet to cure aging, I'll never have the chance to even nibble on most of it.

I love space. I love learning about it, looking at it, researching it, and one day, hopefully, exploring it. But I also love history. And neuroscience. And computers, and psychology, and archeology... and... and then I realized, the renaissance man was dead. There was no way I was going to be able to truly study and have an impact on everything that I loved to learn about. There was no way to be the change I wished to see in the world when what I wished to see was a change in nearly everything I learned about. Then, just as I was about to give up and go be a beach bum in Hawaii, I discovered the amazing art of competitions.

When they're well organized, competitions and prizes are one of the most powerful forces in shaping our future. There was no way I was going to become an expert at everything I wanted to impact. But after ditching out on my PhD program in Hawaii to work with Peter Diamandis and his team at the X PRIZE Foundation, I discovered that I could channel my interests to help spark revolutions in anything I wanted. I didn't have to be the renaissance man. I didn't have to be an expert in everything. All I had to be was an expert in competitions.

So that's what I became. I'll never know what materials have the highest conductivity without googling it. But I can help facilitate the conditions and incentives that are needed for those who do know these things to push that little extra step. This is why I decided to leave a leading role in a great foundation to jump out and take the reins of the Night Rover Challenge. I will never be the one to develop the next amazing leap in energy storage technology. But I sure can help set the framework for those smarter than I am to have one hell of a launch pad to take off from.

The Night Rover Challenge is setting a foundation for energy storage innovation. This competition is just the beginning. Challenges leverage R&D investments 5 to 7 times their traditional value. We plan to use this fact to launch many competitions in the future and hope you will engage with us on this effort. You don't have to have your own super-secret amazing battery in your back pocket to be a part of the Night Rover Challenge. Most of you won't. But maybe you're working on a new idea solving some piece of the puzzle. And maybe we can help.

I hope I'll have the chance to talk with everyone who reads this blog sometime in the next 18 months before this challenge is over. In my blogs I'll do my best to relay important information about the competition, and also explore new ideas and explain any of our reasoning. We're going to do our best to lay a foundation to help drive your amazing innovative technologies forward. Stay tuned for more information and thanks for reading.

Joshua Neubert
Director, Night Rover Challenge
The Cleantech Open