We sat down with Dr Dean Haslip (left) and Dr Michio Kondo (right), Chair and Vice-Chair of the Mission Innovation Technical Advisory Group (TAG) respectively, to find out more about their background, the TAG as a whole and their vision for how this group can best add value to Mission Innovation.
Dr Dean Haslip, Director General, CanmetENERGY-Ottawa, Natural Resources Canada, TAG Chair.
Dr Michio Kondo, Supervisory Innovation Coordinator at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) Japan, TAG Vice-Chair
To both, what is your scientific and career background?
Dean: “I was trained as an experimental physicist. I did my Master of Science degree with the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory and my doctorate was on nuclear structure.
My career has been spent in the Canadian federal government research and development (R&D) community. I spent the first fifteen years of my career at the Department of National Defence, first as a research scientist specializing in radiation protection and radiological counterterrorism, then later as a manager of operational research teams supporting the Canadian Army and the Canadian Armed Forces’ operational commands. For the past nine years, I have been at Natural Resources Canada as the Director General of CanmetENERGY-Ottawa, Canada’s largest non-nuclear energy research and development facility. CanmetENERGY-Ottawa leads the development of energy science and technology solutions for the environmental and economic benefit of Canadians, and it does this through R&D programs in carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS), industrial decarbonization, hydrogen production and utilization, bioenergy and other renewables, and building energy systems. “
Michio: “I have studied solar photovoltaic technologies for over 30 years. In the last decade I have coordinated research among international institutions the private sector on renewable energy and carbon neutrality including wind power, geothermal energy, hydrogen, andenergy management systems. I also serve as Chair of the International Electrotechnical Commission’s International Standards Committee.“
Dean, what was your previous experience with Mission Innovation and how does the TAG build on or differ from this?
Dean: “When I joined the Mission Innovation team in 2016 I worked with a colleague in the UK to stand up the “Analysis and Joint Research Group” (AJR), a working group tasked with facilitating international clean energy collaboration between Mission Innovation members. We established the Innovation Challenges, eight teams of Mission Innovation members interested in accelerating progress in clean energy fields spanning the topics of smart grids, CCUS, advanced materials, and low-carbon heating and cooling. Over the next four years, we helped those teams bring together researchers to work on priority topics, publish technology roadmaps, launch international R&D collaborations and publicize their work to the international clean energy community. Then in 2021, I led an independent technical assessment group (IAG) to review proposals for new Missions to be launched as part of Mission Innovation 2.0. We advised the Mission Innovation senior leadership on which Missions should be pursued as a priority and the strengths and weaknesses of those Missions.
I think all that experience sets me up well to Chair Mission Innovation’s Technical Advisory Group (TAG). The AJR and IAG were both forerunners of the TAG, bringing together technical experts to support and advise Mission Innovation to increase international clean energy collaboration. The key difference now is that the TAG has a higher level of ambition. The TAG brings together a larger group of technical experts, including a number of experts from outside Mission Innovation governments, and our key focus is on MI’s Missions, which are going to be a significant advance on any project that MI has done to date. It is an exciting challenge and one that we are keen to tackle. “
Michio, what have you found most impressive or inspiring about Mission Innovation since becoming Vice Chair in February 2022?
Michio: “I’m most impressed by the very ambitious targets shared by member countries and the approach toward the targets through international collaborations and coalitions. There is a common target for all of mankind and international collaborations are crucial for meeting this. Therefore, the efforts and contributions of member countries toward the common targets are invaluable for our future. “
To both, what makes the TAG member line-up special, and what can they bring to MI?
Dean: “Mission Innovation has brought together a truly impressive group of people in its Technical Advisory Group. We have fourteen professionals with a cumulative 250 years of experience in the clean energy field. Our members come from Mission Innovation governments, but also from organizations like IEA, IRENA, and Breakthrough Energy. We also have a lot of geographic diversity in our membership, with members from Asia, Australia, North America, Europe and the Middle East. Together, we have the technical background to bring relevant expertise to almost any clean energy issue that comes our way.
I think that the TAG’s most significant strength is the attitude of its members. They have been eager to help wherever they can, especially in supporting the Missions. Their dedication to Mission Innovation 2.0 impresses me and is going to make us successful in our work. “
Michio: “The values of the TAG members are their high level and broad perspectives, diversified skillsets, and long-term experience which can contribute to the TAG mission with their expertise. As TAG members are based across the world, meetings so far have only been online and for short periods of time, limiting our ability to get to know each other extensively. However, we hope to get a chance to meet in person at upcoming MI Ministerials or Annual Gatherings. This will strengthen the TAG and produce focused and detailed discussions, which will be fruitful to help guide the MI Missions toward improved outcomes. Ideally, the TAG will act as one team rather than a group of independent advisors.”
Finally, providing independent technical advice for an organisation like MI must have its challenges. What is your vision for the TAG and what do you think the TAG can bring to Mission Innovation?
Dean: “Regardless of the challenges, I think the MI TAG is set up for success. We are a very capable and motivated group of technical experts who are up to the challenge.
Mission Innovation has created seven Missions as part of its second phase. These are large international projects intending to make progress on tackling some of the toughest clean energy challenges we face today. I see the TAG as providing an essential support function to the Missions while they progress. We will of course perform peer review, taking stock of Mission progress and providing frank feedback to Mission teams on what is going well and what could be improved. However, we can also use our oversight position to bring forward success stories and best practices from all Missions, sharing them with the others. By facilitating this knowledge exchange, we can help Missions learn how to solve some of the most difficult problems they encounter. Finally, we can use our platform to celebrate and publicize Mission success stories within Mission Innovation and the broader clean energy community. “
Michio: “From my understanding, not all members of MI are technical experts. The role of TAG is to complement their technical knowledge and information, which is needed to steer the direction of Missions, particularly in cross cutting aspects across multiple Missions. In my personal opinion, the TAG will not criticize the content of Missions themselves but instead aims to support and strengthen the backbones of the Missions and to suggest potential collaboration with other Missions. This requires broad and general perspectives across a variety of technologies, and technoeconomic or social aspects, which I see as an important and unique role expected of the TAG members. “