DOE invests about $14 billion per year in its 17 national research laboratories. That is a lot of money, and it supports many brilliant minds. But as Stephen Ezell and David Hart write in The Hill, too often the ideas these investments lead to, and the skills that they nurture, are trapped inside the fence line of the labs. That’s why it is so encouraging that Sens. Chris Coons (D-DE) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), along with Reps. Ben Lujan (D-NM) and Joe Wilson (R-SC), have introduced legislation that would create a Department of Energy Foundation (DOEF). Building on precedents at federal biomedical research agencies, DOEF would leverage the U.S. government’s investments in energy R&D to attract further investment from the private sector to accelerate the maturation of clever ideas hatched at DOE’s national labs. It would also strengthen hands-on collaboration between private-sector innovators and lab experts. Such steps are particularly vital now as the United States confronts the enormous challenge of transforming its energy system to become cleaner, more reliable, and more affordable. DOEF is an idea whose time has come.