Yes, it's fraught with a number of issues.
The principal issue is really just a matter of the risk/reward at that stage from an investment perspective and also from a customer adoption perspective.
Taking the customer's perspective for a moment, the risks from deploying a technology that has not been, in their view, sufficiently proven or de-risked are so great that they could jeopardize their business or people's lives. For example, in a wastewater treatment plant, a clean water drinking plant, or a multi-billion dollar facility where something gets implemented that has not been correctly scaled up, the loss, potentially, of business and opportunity would be massive. That's a big obstacle to adoption.
The key issue there is being able to get it demonstrated to the point where these issues are identified and worked out prior to commercialization. That takes money. There's no two ways around it for these capital-intensive industrial technologies.
Where the government can play a role, as I mentioned earlier, is in being a guinea pig, in some cases. They could use the assets the government owns to demonstrate in a controlled environment, and get some of these bugs worked out and the scalability issues addressed. If it's a lighting technology in some of the built environments, such as in some of the buildings the government owns, for example, it doesn't necessarily mean writing a cheque. But it could mean utilizing their assets in a novel way.
From an investment perspective, the venture capital community, which is the prime funder at these early and mid stages.... Certainly with clean tech, which is the perspective we bring, it's very difficult to make money in this valley of death stage. The amount of time between when they invest and when they can see an exit is long. And the amount of money required to get to that next valuation point and a potential exit is high. To the extent capital can be brought to bear, such as SDTC, in a situation where you're doing that de-risking and are providing the private sector some capital that matches theirs—it's a partnering process as opposed to just throwing money at things, which may or may not work—we find it to be very effective. In fact, we think it's a model that could be replicated in other high-capital-intensive industries beyond clean tech.