This spring, the Technology Transfer Working Group (TTWG) issued its annual awards celebrating professionals who help commercialize U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) research and Intellectual Property (IP). The TTWG is comprised of leading staff members across DOE's 17 national laboratories, all of which regularly engage in critical research and development. These awards celebrate the exceptional work done by the national labs to support American competitiveness and security through a streamlined commercialization process.

TTWG Member of the Year: Joel Sikora

Sandia National Laboratories (SNL)

Joel has led the TTWG Metrics Subcommittee since 2019 whose goal is to improve the quality of technology transfer data collected annually for DOE. In the beginning of 2021, DOE's Office of Technology Transitions (OTT) requested that the Metrics Subcommittee develop recommendations for a framework to measure the return on investment (ROI) for the technology transfer activities the DOE labs/sites. Joel led the multi-laboratory team to develop this framework and to deliver a white paper and presentation for OTT. The effort began with a literature analysis to understand how others have approached this problem and a framework was created based on a knowledge transfer framework being utilized across the European Union. The recommended framework includes internal and external normalizing factors, data already being collected annually by OTT, and longitudinal case studies. A few of the labs provided data to prototype and improve the framework and the committee reported back to DOE in December 2021.

IP Management: Eugene Cochran, Dan Vacar, and Marc Filigenzi

Project: IP Management of a 3D-Printed Silicon Carbide Technology Facilitates Commercialization

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)

This ORNL team created an IP strategy for an innovation pursuing the world's first additively manufactured nuclear reactor, which was originally developed as part of the Office of Nuclear Energy's Transformational Challenge Reactor Demonstration Program. ORNL recognized that successful deployment of the Transformational Challenge Reactor would require a commercial partner. The commercialization manager, IP team, and researchers developed an IP and commercialization strategy early in the project to facilitate deployment which resulted in the Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation licensing this method to 3D print components for nuclear reactors using silicon carbide. The technology uses a sophisticated additive manufacturing technique to print refractory materials which are highly resistant to extreme heat and degradation into components with complex shapes needed for advanced nuclear reactor designs.

IP Licensing: Mary Holden-Sanchez

Project: Sustained End-User Licensing of NEC Antenna Modelling Software

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL)

Cellular phones, Wi-Fi networks, and satellite links are all made functional by connectivity-enabling antennas. LLNL scientists Gerald "Jerry" Burke, Andrew Poggio, and Edward Miller created the Numerical Electromagnetic Code (NEC), an antenna modeling system for wire and surface antennas. NEC is the most licensed technology in LLNL's software portfolio, and the most widely used code for analyzing antenna performance. After decades of maintenance and design, Jerry Burke retired, but continued maintaining the NEC code until his passing on February 14, 2021. Since 2003, NEC has been offered via an end user license agreement. NEC's lifetime licensing sales are approaching $1M from well over 1,000 sanctioned licenses. NEC versions 4 and 5 continue to be licensed yielding a continual revenue source for LLNL under the direction of Mary Holden-Sanchez.

Partnering: Samantha Zhang and Leah Bower

Project: Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (DOT PHMSA)/DOE NETL Inter-Agency Agreement to conduct a Pipeline Safety Testing Enhancement Study

National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL)

DOT PHMSA protects people and the environment by advancing the safe transportation of energy and other hazardous materials. To develop a Pipeline Safety Testing Enhancement Study and report, PHMSA asked NETL to provide research, development, and engineering expertise specifically in oil and natural gas pipelines, above ground facilities, liquefied natural gas facilities, and underground natural gas storage facilities. NETL is conducting economic analysis of pipeline safety investments in a potential independent research and development facility as well as writing expertise to complete congressional report requirements. This initial project is valued at $1.7M, with a $6M threshold should this strategic partnership continue.

Economic Development: Jesse Smith and Jeffrey Cornett

Project: ORNL's and Partners' $2B Win Is Largest in Tennessee's History

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)

Transitioning to electric vehicles (EVs) is transforming the automotive supply chain, requiring new innovations in battery storage technology. ORNL, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development collaborated to drive home why EV battery firms should locate their innovation operations in Tennessee, the location of nearly 40 percent of the nation's EV jobs and investments. The team targeted a dozen automotive and EV battery companies resulting in key wins including a $2.3 billion commitment by GM-LG Energy Solution JV to build a battery cell plant in Spring Hill, TN, its second in the country. The investment will bring 1,300 new jobs to the state.

Innovative Lab Technology Transfer: Annamarie Meike

Project: Exploring the versatility of DIW printable features with 3Y-ZrO2 ceramic ink

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL)

Additive manufacturing (3D printing) offers the required control and ability to create optimized, reproducible electrode architectures. Energy inks enable next-generation, high-performance, 3D-printed devices for energy storage, catalysis, filtration, sensors, and other applications by meeting the flow conditions needed for 3D printing while maintaining the functional properties of the extruded material. LLNL provided small amounts of such inks to Millipore Sigma through a Technology Commercialization (TCF) award who marketed these inks to researchers. Currently ongoing, this activity will enable Millipore Sigma to make an informed decision on the scale-up possibility for this technology.

Early Career Professionals: Molly Cernicek and Mason Martinez

Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL)

Sandia National Laboratories (SNL)

As the Entrepreneur Programs Manager, Molly Cernicek designs, develops, and implements programs that facilitate the transfer of new and emerging technologies between LANL and the private sector to enhance the lab's ability to meet mission requirements and improve the economic environment in New Mexico. These programs offer customized entrepreneurial activities to maintain or increase spinouts based on LANL technologies, educate the next generation innovators in developing and deploying business models and making science reproducible, reliable, and fast, and recruit entrepreneurs to start companies in emerging technologies that align with Los Alamos national security scientific and technological needs.

Mason Martinez is the lead for SNL's Center for Collaboration and Commercialization. In the past year, he has taken on several ambitious projects and helped develop new opportunities for tech transfer. Mason's significant contributions to the COVID-19 Technical Assistance Program (CTAP 2.0) included overseeing the technical alignment and partnership formation for multiple Sandia Principal Investigators to support organizations across New Mexico, including the Pueblo of Santa Ana, Goodwill of New Mexico, and the Village of Questa, NM. His work has resulted in opportunities and investments from the labs and other regional stakeholders to increase equitable investments in technology-based economic development initiatives across the State.

Single Purpose Laboratories, Plants, and Facilities: Josh Miller, Deidre Laughlin, Andy Meyers, Karin Medlin, and Michele Weigand

Project: Collaborative Efforts and Technology Transfer Success at the Kansas City National Security Campus (KCNSC)

Kansas City National Security Campus (KCNSC)

In the last 5 years, KCNSC elevated technology transfer (TT) and IP to full-time positions, leading to surges in every TT metric. Invention disclosures, patents submitted and awarded, licensing agreements, and CRADAs all increased in FY19-21. IP and TT work collaboratively–each office has a vote in patenting decisions, generating combined patenting and commerciality scores. KCNSC redesigned the online invention disclosure form to be short and concise which in turn reduced time for processing inventions and increased transparency throughout the process. The TT team increased visibility through updated internal web pages, streamlined and published process maps, and enhanced reward programs. Tech Transfer has been added to KCNSC's People Centers of Excellence tasked with recruiting, retaining, and rewarding.