New solutions for cybersecurity, energy and medical research are in the hands of companies who can use them to create new products and services, thanks to efforts to transfer them from the lab to industry. The Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory received three awards for excellence in technology transfer from the Federal Laboratory Consortium.
The technologies developed at PNNL include a trio of solutions that work together to detect, identify and neutralize cyberthreats to networks and industrial control systems; an analytical technology that may impact how medical professionals predict, diagnose and treat disease; and a system that concentrates solar energy to help produce electricity and liquids and gases for transportation.
"The three technologies recognized this year demonstrate that drive to make a difference, and the innovative solutions our researchers develop, along with our industry partners."
FLC awards teams of government inventors and staff that went above and beyond to find a partner interested in licensing the technologies. PNNL has earned 88 FLC technology transfer awards since the awards program was established in 1984 — more than any other national laboratory.
"Since the laboratory was created in 1965, our scientists and engineers have prided themselves on working with private industry to find additional uses for government-developed technologies that directly affect people's lives," said Lee Cheatham, director of technology deployment and outreach at PNNL. "The three technologies recognized this year demonstrate that drive to make a difference, and the innovative solutions our researchers develop, along with our industry partners."
The 2018 team award winners licensed these technologies:
- A trio of cybersecurity technologies — Ant-Based Cyber Defense, MLSTONES, and SerialTap — were developed by PNNL researchers independent of each other to address the need for scalable defense, identification of constantly changing malware and to protect legacy systems, respectively. They were discovered through the Department of Homeland Security's Transition to Practice Program, which is designed to expose promising cyber technologies to entrepreneurs and potential investors. The result-an introduction and subsequent partnership of two entrepreneurs who formed a new startup company, Cynash, Inc., to license the three tools to produce an integrated software suite that will be offered by mid-2018. PNNL initially provided a novel exploratory license that allowed the firm to 'test drive' the technology before acquiring an exclusive commercial license.
The technology transfer team includes: Glenn Fink, David McKinnon, Jereme Haack, Keith Star, Thomas Edgar, Eric Choi, Chris Oehmen, Elena Peterson, Aaron Philips and Kannan Krishnaswami of PNNL, Richard Robinson of Cynash, Scott Forbes of IP Group, and Michael Pozmantier and Nadia Carlsten of DHS.
- Structures for Lossless Ion Manipulations — or SLIM — allows for never-before-possible studies that could revolutionize many fields, including medicine. SLIM has the potential to dramatically change how complex biological samples are analyzed. It is 1,000 times faster than typical analysis methods, with unprecedented sensitivity that can identify trace amounts of molecules. A startup company, MOBILion Systems, Inc., licensed the technology in January 2017 after PNNL worked closely with MOBILion to demonstrate and validate the technology in its intended applications. PNNL also sent a staff member to join MOBILion part-time to assist with the transfer.
The SLIM team includes: Richard Smith, Yehia Ibrahim, Bruce Harrer, former PNNL scientist Gordon Anderson, Melissa Sherman of MOBILion and Ahmed Hamid, formerly with PNNL and now with MOBILion.
- Solar Thermochemical Advanced Reactor System, or STARS, converts a record-setting 70 percent of solar energy into chemical energy- that can be used for transportation or to produce electricity. Concentrated sunlight heats natural gas or other chemicals in a specialized reactor and heat exchanger made up of tiny channels that hold a catalyst. This converts the gas into a more energy-rich fuel, which can reduce carbon emissions by as much as 40 percent, while producing valuable compounds like methanol and hydrogen. The Richland-based spinoff company that licensed the technology, STARS Technology Corporation-or STC, is made up of three former PNNL employees, as well as their long-time industry mentor. The STC principals were participants in DOE's inaugural Energy I-Corps, a two-month business training program-where they graduated best in class and transferred the knowledge gained into formation of their company.
The STARS team includes: Bob Wegeng, Derek Maughan, Bruce Harrer, Charles Freeman, Ron Thomas, former PNNL staff members Chris Klasen and Daryl Brown, who are now with STC, Peter Brehm of STC and Ron Kent of Southern California Gas.
In recognition of their excellence in promoting technology transfer, the three PNNL teams will be honored at an award ceremony on April 25, 2018 at the FLC national meeting in Philadelphia.