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Mission Innovation Beyond 2020: Challenges and Opportunities

Today, the Mission Innovation (MI) Secretariat published “Mission Innovation Beyond 2020: Challenges and opportunities,” summarising the current status and future trends in clean energy innovation to help inform discussions about the future of Mission Innovation.

MI was launched by twenty Heads of State at COP21 to respond, with government commitments, to the urgent need to accelerate innovation and make clean energy widely affordable. Over the past four years, through activities at the national and international level, members have increased funding, set-up new collaborations, celebrated leading innovators, and developed new frameworks to identify the most impactful clean energy solutions. At the 4th MI Ministerial, ‘The Story So Far: An Impact Review,’ showcased progress against these goals.

As MI comes towards the end of its first five year mandate, members are discussing the potential scope and priorities for a second phase of MI by reflecting on MI’s purpose, identifying today’s challenges, and developing a compelling vision and narrative that can spur business and political leadership around the world.

To inform these discussions, the MI Secretariat has examined key developments and trends in clean energy innovation by interviewing experts around the world, by conducting our own analysis, and by summarising the literature to produce the paper ‘Mission Innovation Beyond 2020: Challenges and Opportunities.

Four key messages emerge from the paper:

  1. Given that new innovations have long incubation times, the literature indicates that timelines can be shortened by a system-wide approach to innovation that includes developing a clear and long-term vision, increasing skills, strengthening networks, investing in demonstrations, nurturing markets and building user acceptance.
  2. Public and private investments in clean energy innovation are increasing slowly. However, they are still a small share of total R&D budgets and public investment in energy innovation is half the level as a share of GDP that it was in the late-1970s.
  3. Trends of rising energy access, electrification, digitalisation and net-zero targets in some countries are shifting innovation priorities, with major challenges including providing grid flexibility, integrating and adapting technologies, reducing energy demand and demonstrating and scaling solutions for harder-to-abate sectors.
  4. Co-ordinated experimentation between countries and innovators can reduce costs and risks, increase confidence amongst innovators and investors and build larger market niches, but priorities need to be aligned, trust established, and mechanisms need to be efficient to achieve impact.
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