New DOE tech transitions office may provide funding opportunities for Laboratory

March 10, 2015
aerogel

LLNL is a leader in breakthrough carbon aerogel research. Carbon aerogels hold technological promise for a variety of sustainable energy applications including hydrogen and electrical energy storage, desalination and electrocatalysis. A new DOE tech transitions office may provide funding opportunities to bring Lab technologies into the marketplace. (Download Image)

New DOE tech transitions office may provide funding opportunities for Laboratory

Kenneth K Ma, ma28@llnl.gov, 925-423-7602

The Department of Energy’s (DOE) newly created Office of Technology Transitions (OTT) could provide energy stakeholders with money from a nearly $20 million fund to transition research into the marketplace starting in FY16.

That means Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory could have opportunities to apply for funding to boost the commercial readiness levels of energy technologies from a wide array of sectors such as fossil fuel, geothermal, solar, nuclear, etc.

“DOE’s creation of OTT is showing its commitment to technology transfer, which is very important at Lawrence Livermore,” said Rich Rankin, director of the Lab’s Industrial Partnerships Office. “OTT will provide a more centralized focus, so when the Lab interacts with DOE headquarters on tech transfer activities, it will be with that office as compared to various other DOE entities.” 

OTT will serve as a DOE-wide functional unit that coordinates the commercial development of DOE’s research outputs and will be responsible for the statutorily-created Energy Technology Commercialization Fund (TCF). This nearly $20 million fund will leverage the R&D funding in the applied energy programs to pursue high-impact commercialization activities. Additionally, the new office will be responsible for delivering a technology transfer execution plan to Congress and reporting annually on the department’s technology transfer and partnership activities.

“The office will work closely with the national laboratories and engage with industry to commercialize technology and strengthen the global competitiveness of U.S. industries based on scientific and technological innovations,” DOE Secretary Earnest Moniz said.

OTT will help coordinate technology transfer activities carried out at all 17 DOE national laboratories, as well as other DOE research and production facilities, to actively support private-sector commercialization activities. These activities support the White House’s Lab-to-Market initiative, which is focused on accelerating the transfer of federally funded research from the laboratory to the commercial marketplace. 

The director of the office will serve as the statutorily-created technology transfer coordinator, and as the Energy Secretary’s primary adviser on matters relating to technology transfer and commercialization activities. The office will be housed within the Office of the Under Secretary for Science and Energy.

Jetta Wong, director of the Lab Impact Initiative in the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, has been chosen to serve as acting director of OTT until a full-time director and technology transfer coordinator is selected.

Wong has led the development and implementation of a coordinated strategy of uniform policies and programs to accelerate the commercial impact of the Department of Energy's (DOE) national laboratories for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s (EERE) Lab Impact Initiative.

"She is as good a person as you can find for this job,” said Rankin, who has worked with Wong in the past. “She is highly energetic and good at moving things forward. That’s what is needed right now."

Wong joined DOE in 2012. Prior to that, she worked for the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. She worked on a wide range of energy and environment policy issues related to civilian research, development and demonstration programs at DOE and the Environmental Protection Agency.