What is ACT (Agreement for Commercializing Technology)?

ACT was developed to facilitate the ability of contractor that manage DOE Laboratories and Facilities to engage with industry more flexibly on research and technology transfer projects.  Through ACT, third parties can negotiate terms and conditions (T&Cs) more consistent with industry practice that are otherwise not permitted under the T&Cs of CRADAs and Strategic Partnership Project (SPP) agreements. 

Who can partner with the laboratories under ACT?

ACT is available to a full range of sponsors, including start-ups, small and large businesses, universities and state governments, that provide private funding to sponsor research.

Do all the DOE laboratories participate in ACT?

No. Individual DOE Laboratory and Facility contractors opt in to participate and some labs voluntarily offer the ACT.  In the six year pilot that ended October 2017, eight Labs participated: PNNL, NREL, BNL, LLNL, INL, ORNL, Ames, and SRNL.  On October 31, 2017, the Secretary of Energy approved making the ACT mechanism permanent.  In addition, the Secretary authorized a pilot for ACT projects that include federal funding, known as FedACT agreements. 

Is ACT available at other Federal Agencies?

No, this is a contractual agreement based on specific DOE statutory authorities.

Will companies continue to be able to work with the national laboratories under CRADAs (Cooperative Research and Development Agreements) and WFO (Work for Others)?

Absolutely, ACT will add to the existing contractual mechanisms already available for partnering with DOE laboratories.

How is ACT different from CRADAs and Work for Others?

ACT authorizes participating Contractors operating DOE laboratories to partner with businesses using terms that are better aligned with industry practice. These Contractors are authorized to take on risk that the U.S. Government cannot assume. ACT also provides a more flexible framework for negotiation of intellectual property (IP) rights to facilitate moving technology from the laboratory to the marketplace, and facilitates the participation of national laboratories in groups formed to address complex technological challenges.

Will the company automatically receive the IP in ACT?

Not necessarily, the company and the laboratory Contractor have the opportunity to negotiate who will take the IP lead as owner, based on what is needed to move the technology to market. IP ownership by a sponsoring company remains available through Work for Others Agreements.

How is IP treated differently in ACT versus the other agreements?

Under CRADAs, the IP is owned by the party that invented it, whether that is the laboratory, the company or both jointly. The company may then license any inventions the laboratory creates during the CRADA research and development.

Under WFO agreements, the sponsoring company generally is given the option of owning the IP created at the laboratory, subject to the right of the government to use it – a "government use license."

Under ACT, for many types of technology, the government will have the option to retain a more narrow license to use the IP only for research purposes.