Thanks for reading the report and laying out a comprehensive critique of Clifton and I's assessment. Here are some counterpoints:
1. Innovation economics-based energy policies don't dictate that emerging technologies move from government program to government program. Instead, it's focused on accelerating technology innovation of new products and services. In other words, government investments in innovation, especially from research through commercialization aims to fill gaps in next-generation technology development. The key to these policies working, though, is public-private partnerships to move technology development forward. That's why programs like ARPA-E are so important: they invest in high-risk ideas (in industry, universities, Labs, etc.) to help them reach pilot stage so to entice industry and VCs to run with them. The same varied list of ways new ideas emerge from the Office of Science are a good example as well. So rather than saying its more about moving tech from program to program, it's more accurate to say innovation economics creates a path for emerging technologies to develop, whether that be from support from gov investments, industry investment, or both.
2. Innovation economics (and its policy approach) are not theoretical. In fact, you have to look no further than the United States for just one example: the Department of Defense. DOD has an internal innovation ecosystem, with industry partners, gov investment, research, pilot programs, and a pathway to scale-up through the procurement budget. Of course, DODs ecosystem model is but one way of supporting innovation - and is not directly aimed at commercial markets (though it's spurred commercial breakthroughs) - it's still a real-world example. Germany's basic research-applied research-manufacturing paradigm is another. Japan does something similar. Australia recently reorganized its energy programs to better align its innovation functions. The list goes on and on...
3. There have been successful commercial products in the battery industry launched through an innovation economics approach. Today, battery companies like A123 and the emerging company Envia are two recent examples of technologies that came from government sponsored research (National Labs), recieved ARPA-E grants to pilot, and have recieved scale-up investment (A123) or tech testing support (Envia) from VCs and industry. A123 reached commercial scale and is still innovating new battery designs to lower costs and Envia holds the potential of a significant cost breakthrough in battery packs of $300/kwh compared to today's $500/kWh. These don't reach the $100/kWh goal I cite, but they're still innovations to build off of towards that goal. But even going back in time, the hybrid-electric vehicle industry, including its battery, comes from years of innovation investments by the US government as well as countries abroad like Korea and Japan. No doubt, the entire battery-based vehicle industry lends itself to an innovation economics type approach. Our report simply says we need to do that more directly and aggressively.
4. I'm not too sure the key to better EV batteries is through the mobile tech market, instead I would just focus on battery manufacturing in general. If mobile devices are the driver of battery advancements, why are Korea and Japan not producing much better batteries? Why would a US mobile device manufacturer produce more battery advancements than an Asian mobile device manufacturer? Instead of looking to mobile device companies as the key to EV batteries, I propose we simply focus on the second part of your answer: battery manufacturing, and really, you mean demonstration and scale-up. It's true that the US is behind in advanced battery innovation. Part of the reason is as you infer: the US let mobile device battery manufacturing move overseas decades ago and the innovation followed suit. Right now we're playing catch-up by investing in battery innovation and we need to do more. But bringing back mobile device manufacturing as a strategy to produce better EV batteries (while not necessarily a bad thing by itself), is a very round-about way of doing it.
In our report we agree with your overall assessment and propose something different: more coordination among DOE-DOD-auto manufacturers to test new battery technologies. Some of this is going on today through the DOE-DOD Memorandum of Understanding, though not nearly enough. Formal partnering as part of a coordinated battery innovation strategy would be better and would provide the same type of real-world demonstration you seek. Another way to do it would be how DOE is working with auto companies to test new carbon fiber technologies. DOE is currently building a user facility to test new production processes and materials so new ideas can quickly get to market. One could easily think of a similar partnership to test new battery ideas.
Anyway, thanks for your thoughtful comments and look forward to more discussion.