Managing any business is hard work, especially during a global pandemic with stay-at-home orders in place. It requires creativity and flexibility along with some amount of prior preparation.
On May 11, 2020, I gathered a group of representatives from several start-up companies that are developing advanced nuclear technologies to talk about how they are making progress under challenging conditions.
All of the companies that participated in the call are relatively new and have been founded with the idea of finding talented, excited employees in a variety of locations. As a result, they have infrastructure and procedures in place to handle a geographically distributed work force.
Many of their employees have always worked from their home offices. Companies have discovered, however, that there are some advantages in holding video conferences where all participants are distributed instead of having a core group physically located in the same conference room.
That arrangement seems to enable better collaboration and a more comprehensive ability to take advantage of contributions from people that are not located at the home office.
Companies are gaining experience in pushing the boundaries of remote monitoring in some of their experimental facilities. They believe that some of the techniques that they are implementing will pay dividends as they develop and deploy their technology products.
Government agencies and national laboratories have made substantial progress in their ability to work under conditions that restrict travel and in-person meetings. The infrastructure that enables this different approach was being developed and enhanced even before stay at home orders associated with the global pandemic took effect.
Of course, not all of the challenges facing these start-up energy companies are as readily addressed as remote working. There is turmoil in the global energy markets and there are regulatory and supplier issues that need to be addressed.
We had a wide ranging discussion that should make for interesting listening for anyone who wonders how the advanced nuclear industry is doing under difficult business conditions.
Here is a list of the discussion participants and the companies they represent.
Caroline Cochran, co-founder and COO of Oklo Inc.
Per Peterson, co-founder and Chief Nuclear Officer at Kairos Power
Carl Perez, CEO at Elysium Industries
Canon Bryan, Chief Financial Officer, Terrestrial Energy
Lars Jorgenson, CEO, ThorCon
Mark Mitchell, President, USNC-Power
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