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Breakthroughs Magazine

Special Report - Commercial Partnerships: Working with a National Laboratory

Introducing PNNL: The who, what, when, where, and why of a national laboratory

When a company knocks on the door at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory seeking a research or technology partner, a bit of identity confusion is typical. Who will I be working with, the company asks-a private company, a government agency or some combination? Even more important, companies ask, how will this identity affect contracting ease, access to people and equipment, and rights to intellectual property?

Simply put, companies work with Battelle to obtain research and development services and intellectual property rights. The work is delivered through people and facilities at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Battelle, one of the world's largest independent research and development organizations, operates PNNL for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science. Through a unique contracting mechanism between Battelle and DOE, companies can access 4,200 staff and more than 2 million square feet of facilities at the PNNL locations in Richland, Seattle and Sequim, Wash.; Portland, Ore. and Washington, D.C. Battelle has 14,000 staff in more than 100 locations worldwide.

Commercial clients seeking research or technology at PNNL may contract directly with Battelle-legally, Battelle Memorial Institute Pacific Northwest Division-without DOE's direct involvement. Each year, about 130 companies use this streamlined, flexible contracting process. Before a research project begins, companies typically negotiate rights to any intellectual property that may be generated. Firms also can license intellectual property from previously funded government research. About 30 license agreements are signed annually, 70 percent of them with commercial companies.

This model of sharing government and Battelle resources at a consolidated laboratory has proven effective on many levels. Companies tap into a world-class source of innovation to enhance their industrial competitiveness. DOE increases the value of technologies and research generated from its national laboratory. And consumers get new products that improve their lives.

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