Fail fast.

It is the mantra of the new economy, as acknowledgment spreads that invaluable lessons and unanticipated knowledge gains can occur even when projects don’t work. That lesson is much easier to learn when starting up a new networking site with a handful of employees than it is in the energy business, where research that ends in failure can cost millions of dollars at least.

With private industry unable to make huge open-ended investments in basic research as long as shareholders are watching, governments have been asked to step in. Energy Secretary Steven Chu has been beating the drum for months about energy research, and recently a number of executives and researchers gathered in Washington, DC at his behest to discuss how Energy Frontier Research Centers, which reach across disciplines and seek to leverage government funding, can advance energy research.

Listen to Breaking Energy’s Margaret Ryan talk about new models of research, the challenge of funding quests for solutions to basic physics problems, and the political environment that complicates the scientific quest for energy answers.

For more on energy research and innovation:

Journey To Nowhere by Margaret Ryan
China Focus: ‘Great Duplicators, Not Great Innovators’
Sustained US Commitment To Clean Energy Investment by DOE’s Jonathan Silver