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Energy Department Answering President's Call on Commericalization

October 28, 2011 - 12:22pm


Energy Department Answering President's Call on Commericalization

Today, the President issued guidance on accelerating technology transfer and commercialization from federally-funded research. As the largest funder of physical science research and steward of 22 National Laboratories and facilities, the Energy Department has an obligation to play a leading role in the implementation of this mandate. Over the past two years, the Energy Department has advanced a number of initiatives to commercialize the Department's research and development (R&D) so the United States can out-innovate the rest of the world. recently highlighted the successful commercialization of technologies developed in the Department’s National Labs and how they have created jobs, industries and businesses. For more information and to watch a replay of our live videochat on commercialization, go to

Over the past year, the Energy Department has taken a comprehensive look at the metrics we utilize to assess the Department's Technology Transfer activities. Tech-Transfer metrics have traditionally measured outputs rather than meaningful outcomes to evaluate the performance of where we stand. From a short-term, here-and-now perspective, it has been easier to measure the number of disclosures, licenses and agreements. Rather, a long-term meaningful impact requires us to incorporate a statistical element of societal and economic impact; this has historically been a lot more difficult and ambiguous to gauge, but equally worthwhile to take into account.

In fact, at times there may not be a license or an agreement associated with a groundbreaking discovery that enables an entire new field. One example of this is the field of nuclear medicine, originally developed at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. This technology led to the use of the neutron beam for cancer treatments and MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) that saves countless lives each year.

In line with the President's call, the Energy Department will be looking closely at the following metrics: new companies created, products on the market and more importantly how these new commercialized products can enable the creation of jobs in America and emblazon the term "Made in America." In fact, we are currently running a pilot program through mid-December that drastically reduces both cost and time to negotiate an Option Agreement. (An Option Agreement is a precursor to a license, and it enables a company to obtain exclusivity to the intellectual property while they solidify the business plan, pull together the necessary resources and raise capital). Learn more about this initiative: America's Next Top Energy Innovator.

The Department is making it easier for industry to collaborate with National Laboratories and facilities by reducing upfront costs. Specifically, we reduced the 90-day advance to 60 days. And the advance payment can be reduced further for small companies and state universities, for which advance payments are especially prohibitive.

Aside from advance payment, the Energy Department is completely revamping the current Cooperate Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) document to streamline and significantly reduce the approval cycle. Just this past year, we completed an in-depth analysis of the current CRADA process and have identified best practices; which has resulted in a reduction from a 120-day approval cycle time to 45 days at a number of our facilities.

Additionally, a number of our Labs have research parks or dedicated buildings for outside use, fostering local and regional partnerships. Read more about Lawrence Livermore National Lab’s new campus to support industry and university collaborations, as well as Sandia National Lab’s Science and Technology Park. Many of our labs, including Oak Ridge National Lab and Thomas Jefferson National Lab, have state-funded buildings that serve as incubator space of high-growth technology companies.

What does this all mean? The Energy Department -- 17 labs and 5 facilities strong -- is committed to establishing meaningful partnerships with the private sector to ensure our scientific discoveries lead to new products and services, which will strengthen our economic competitiveness and help us lead in the 21st century. We are OPEN FOR BUSINESS and are doing our part to eliminate barriers to start-up creation and large scale private/public partnership with U.S. industry. We invite industry to learn about our expertise and facilities that can solve your must pressing problems.    
Learn more about the commercialization of technologies developed in our National Labs and our Tech Transfer program.