Achievements and Insights from the First Phase of Mission Innovation

In 2016, Mission Innovation members pledged to seek to “double their investments in clean energy research & development over five years” as well as to “set in place an information-sharing system that could provide information on plans for and progress toward each Member’s efforts towards the doubling target and to facilitate international cooperation.”

Members determined priority areas to focus their doubling efforts and put in place an information- sharing platform providing data on clean energy R&D funding categorized by member and by sector.  Thanks to Mission Innovation, several members have shared their data and information on R&D funding for the first time ever in the context of an international collaborative initiative.

“New data and analyses are essential to track the progress of clean energy innovation and strengthen collaboration, enabling countries to increase the impacts of national R&D policies and programmes, for example by reducing duplication and learning from best practices. I am therefore pleased that MI has been able to drive increased transparency over the past five years, but we still have much more to do,” said Dr Jennie Dodson, Head of the MI Secretariat.

The latest public R&D investment figures available, which were submitted by 18 MI members in 2020, show an encouraging trend. Funding to MI clean energy R&D focus areas from these 18 members has increased from a combined baseline of USD 8.1 billion to USD 13 billion over four years, representing an increase of USD 4.9 billion. Members that have already reached their doubling target include Chile, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom. China, with a funding increase of about USD 2 billion, accounts for almost 40% of the increase across the whole MI community, followed by the European Commission (9%), Japan (9%) and the United Kingdom (9%).

The absolute increment in R&D funding to priority areas that members have committed to doubling is expected to be an important contribution to the overall increase in public R&D spend on energy technologies observed since 2017, as reported by the IEA[1]. However, significant and additional effort is needed by several countries to meet their doubling target and it remains to be seen how the COVID pandemic will have impacted clean energy innovation programme delivery or reallocation of budgets.

Although the second phase of MI will focus on impacts and outcomes, scaling up both private and public RD&D investments in clean energy technologies will remain crucial. We need to increase funding and drive forward the efficiency and effectiveness of innovative energy solutions to accelerate clean energy innovation,” said Anna Krzyzanowska, MI adviser for the European Commission.

[1] An analysis by the MI Secretariat of the funding from 8 MI members reporting to both the IEA and MI showed that MI-related funding makes up to 70% of the overall energy-related public R&D budget. Several MI members did not include in their MI baselines some low-carbon technology areas which are part of the “low-carbon” IEA category, such as nuclear and CCS.