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Breakthroughs Magazine

Special Report - Commercial Partnerships: Working with a National Laboratory

Doing business with PNNL—which method is right for your company?

Whether you're a small business needing expert technology advice, a university researcher wanting access to specialized scientific facilities, or a large business looking for a capability or new technology to augment your in-house research or products, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory offers several ways to partner that can enable your business strategy.

The U.S. Department of Energy provides guidelines for private companies, state and local governments, and universities to gain access. The guidelines are common to all national laboratories. However, Battelle, as the operator of PNNL, also can partner with companies, governments, and universities directly in its private capacity.

Through a unique contracting mechanism between Battelle and DOE known as a Use Permit, Battelle may use DOE facilities and equipment on a full cost-reimbursement basis for work for Battelle's account. Battelle can directly perform contract R&D at PNNL for federal, state and local governments and for private companies. Each project is negotiated and tailored to the needs and resources of the participating parties. The contracting approach is flexible and typically conducted on a fixed price, time and material, or cost-reimbursement basis.

A company with interest and capabilities in a specific research or technology area might consider partnering with PNNL using a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA). A CRADA is a contractual agreement in which both parties collaborate, share costs, and pool the results of their research and development program. Your staff, facilities, equipment, and other resources are leveraged with those of PNNL, and you gain access to PNNL's science and engineering expertise, results of recent research, and technical facilities. A CRADA provides the unique opportunity to use new technologies evolving from federal research programs in a collaborative way.

A small technology-based business needing short-term technology assistance might benefit from PNNL's Technology Assistance Program. Up to 40 hours of free technical help from PNNL scientists and engineers are available each year. Assistance can include testing and recommending product materials, creating new software/hardware applications, improving production and manufacturing processes, and resolving technical problems. Through this program, PNNL has helped more than 400 firms with 700 projects in the last 10 years.

An organization pursuing technology goals could arrange access to the national laboratory's resources through the Work for Others (WFO) program. Here, PNNL staff perform work using PNNL facilities and technical expertise. Standard terms of the agreement are established by DOE, but DOE does not fund the work. DOE has a mission to provide technical assistance to other federal agencies, commercial companies, local and state governments, and foreign governments, and any of these may use WFO to access PNNL's specialized research and development capabilities on a full cost-recovery basis (reimbursable agreements). Technologies may be transferred from the Laboratory to the marketplace for further development or commercialization.

Scientists researching energy, environmental, health, or national security issues can arrange access to specialized facilities through PNNL's User Facilities Agreement. User facilities include DOE's William R. Wiley Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory and the Applied Process Engineering Laboratory. Proprietary and nonproprietary agreements are possible, depending on the user's willingness to publish the results of the research.

License Agreements are another way to partner with the Laboratory. PNNL receives approximately 250 invention disclosures from its researchers yearly, and many are converted into patent applications and software copyrights available for license. More than 150 technologies are available for licensing organized by technology portfolio: analytical instrumentation, biomedical and biotechnology, chemistry, electrochemical, electronics, energy, environmental, information technology, materials, microsystems, nuclear, sensors, and ultrasonics.

PNNL welcomes the opportunity to partner with industry in support of DOE's mission to move science from the national laboratory to commercial use. For more information, contact the individuals listed in the table below.

Type of Agreement Description When to use this mechanism Who to Contact
Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) Cost-shared collaboration with industry for R&D activities of mutual benefit Works best when an organization has a research program related to existing government-funded work at PNNL. A CRADA would allow mutually beneficial collaboration to occur. Cheryl Cejka, Director
Technology Commercialization
(509) 375-3700
Direct Contract with Battelle Permits industry, government agencies, and non-profits to directly fund and negotiate contract R&D work through a private contract with Battelle Ideal for industry partners who want to leverage core Laboratory science and technology, but looking for application- or solution-specific development. Projects are client-funded; most flexible contract arrangement. Rich Chapas, Director
Industrial Collaboration
(509) 375-2158
License Agreements Granting of rights to practice Battelle intellectual property to enable client's business plan Appropriate for companies interested in using Battelle's intellectual property for commercial use. Cheryl Cejka, Director
Technology Commercialization
(509) 375-3700
Technology Assistance Program Forty hours of PNNL staff time annually Ideal for small technology-based companies who desire access to unique capabilities at PNNL. Gary Spanner, Manager
Economic Development Office
(509) 372-4296
User Facilities Agreement Provides access to certain dedicated DOE laboratory facilities Provides access for non-PNNL researchers to use specialized equipment at PNNL. Bruce Simanton, Manager
Business Development and Analysis
(509) 376-0161
Work for Others (WFO) Enables federal and non-federal agencies to access PNNL's capabilities on cost-recovery basis Appropriate for situations where an agency wants direct access to PNNL capabilities under a cost-reimbursement arrangement through DOE operating contract. Marlene K. Meeks
WFO Onsite Specialist
(509) 372-6258

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