A National Frontier Tech Public-Private Partnership to Spur Economic Growth

Authors: Katie Rae, Michael Kearney, Orin Hoffman


The United States government needs to radically change our national approach to the commercial growth of frontier tech technology companies (e.g., new energy production and distribution, advanced manufacturing, synthetic biology, materials, robotics, mobility, space exploration, and next-generation semiconductors). Frontier tech startups can advance our nation’s future global competitive advantage, providing an opportunity to create high-tech and low-tech jobs and reshore other jobs. Coupling investment in the frontier tech innovation ecosystem with workforce training will allow the U.S. to reinvent and revitalize aspects of our declining or offshored industrial sectors and rebuild the country’s manufacturing capabilities.

The U.S. government should create a $500M fund and an administration authority that allows relevant government agencies to create public-private partnerships. This requires collaboration with private capital providers that utilizes public funding to incentivize private investment in early stage frontier tech companies. The goal is not to subsidize private investment capital in areas where the current free market system is working, but rather to identify those critical national industrial base areas where private capital is insufficiently investing and use matching grants to spur early stage private investment. This early partnership will allow increased access and collaboration between historically siloed government and venture capital innovation ecosystems. For frontier tech companies, whose growth requires both public and private capital, the U.S. must utilize our resources more efficiently to create a globally competitive future economic base.

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About the Authors

Katie Rae serves as the CEO & Managing Partner of The Engine, a venture capital fund built by MIT, that invests in early-stage companies solving the world’s biggest problems through the convergence of breakthrough science, engineering and leadership. She serves as a Board Member at Commonwealth Fusion Systems, Form Energy, Via Separations, and Lilac Solutions. Katie has advised hundreds of founders and invested in over 100 companies. She holds an MBA from Yale and BA in Biology from Oberlin College.