Lawrence Livermore and Sandia researchers gather to learn more about entrepreneurship

Jan. 26, 2015

The Livermore Valley Lab-Corps kickoff on Jan. 21 attracted about 90 people, including more than 60 LLNL and Sandia scientists and engineers, to learn about new entrepreneurial training opportunities offered through collaboration with the UC Davis Graduate School of Management, the i-GATE incubator and industry advisers. Shown speaking is Andy Hargadon, a UC Davis professor of technology management and director of the Child Family Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Photos by Julie Russell/LLNL (Download Image)

Lawrence Livermore and Sandia researchers gather to learn more about entrepreneurship

Stephen Wampler,, 925-423-3107

More than 60 researchers and budding entrepreneurs from Livermore’s two national laboratories got a first-hand look at life as an entrepreneur through the kickoff for the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Lab-Corps pilot program last week.

The Jan. 21 joint event, held at the Livermore Valley Open Campus, brought together scientists and engineers from Lawrence Livermore and Sandia national laboratories, faculty from the University of California, Davis Graduate School of Management and representatives from the Livermore-based i-GATE Innovation Hub to discuss upcoming funding and training opportunities available to researchers interested in transferring technologies out of the national labs and into the market.

"The idea of Lab-Corps is to help national lab scientists and engineers become better entrepreneurs and to move innovative technologies into the marketplace," said Christine Hartmann, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s (LLNL) Lab-Corps principal investigator.

The Lab-Corps program, funded through the DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy office, synthesizes seminars, classes and entrepreneurial mentorship to train researchers in the process of business planning and delivering new technologies to the marketplace.

Two teams from the Lab-Corps training program, from LLNL and/or Sandia, will receive $75,000 each to participate in the national Lab-Corps program that will give them new tools to develop a commercialization plan for their technology.

“I think the Lab-Corps kickoff was energizing,” said Rich Rankin, the leader of LLNL’s Industrial Partnerships Office. “It was jampacked. The speakers did a wonderful job of teaching the principles of entrepreneurship. The session was about innovation — how to value it, how to present it and how entrepreneurs can make their ideas commercially successful.”

Lab Corps
Brandon Cardwell (far left), director of the i-GATE startup incubator in downtown Livermore, hosted a panel of successful entrepreneurs, including (left to right), Greg Sommer, founder of Sandstone Diagnostics, a Sandia spinout; former LLNL employee Lloyd Hackel, the vice president of advanced technologies for Metal Improvement Co. Inc.; and Don Arnold, who founded Eksigent Technologies, a Sandia spinout that was later acquired by AB Sciex.

In addition to the scientists and engineers from the labs, representatives from academia, investment organizations and industry attended to provide perspectives on the process of transferring technology to market.

Speakers included professor Andy Hargadon, founder and faculty director of the UC Davis Child Family Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the Charles Soderquist chair in Entrepreneurship; Jim Presley, managing director of Pacific Private Capital; and Brandon Cardwell, executive director of of the Livermore-based i-GATE Innovation Hub.

Interested researchers will attend a series of seminars at i-GATE and UC Davis before submitting business proposals to the Lab-Corps selection committee. From these submissions, the committee will choose two teams that will attend more in-depth training sessions at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, in July and October.

As a pilot program, it is hoped that the Lab-Corps program will lead to more partnerships that bring together Livermore’s national laboratories with local and national industry to come up with new ways to bring technology to the marketplace, according to Rankin.