Energy Department Announces New Initiative to Remove Barriers for Industry to Work with National Labs, Commercialize Technology

The U.S. Department of Energy is issuing the following news release today.

Washington, D.C. — As part of President Obama's commitment to helping U.S businesses create jobs and strengthen their competitiveness by speeding up the transfer of federal research and development from the laboratory to the marketplace, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman today announced a new pilot initiative to reduce some of the hurdles that prevent innovative companies from working with the Department of Energy's national laboratories. The new Agreements for Commercializing Technology (ACT) will help businesses bring job-creating technologies to the market faster by allowing them to work with the Department of Energy's (DOE's) national laboratories from start to finish to develop and deliver new clean energy technologies and other innovations.

"To compete in the 21st global economy, we need to make it easier for businesses to move great ideas from the drawing board to the marketplace," said Deputy Secretary Poneman. "The Agreements for Commercializing Technology will cut red tape for businesses and start-ups interested in working with our nation's crown jewels of innovation, the national laboratories, and strengthen new domestic industries by helping bring innovative, job-creating technologies to the market faster."

In January, the Department will announce the laboratories selected to participate in the pilot. This initiative will remove barriers for businesses and startup companies that are interested in accessing the research, facilities, and scientists available at the laboratories, catapulting innovative new products to the marketplace.

In October, the President issued a memorandum to executive departments and agencies directing agencies with federal laboratories to accelerate technology transfer and commercialization of research, and to take steps to increase partnerships between businesses and laboratories. The Department of Energy's ACT, established today, will serve as a vehicle to help accomplish this at the DOE laboratories.

ACT also complements the goals of the Administration's "Startup America" initiative by supporting high-growth entrepreneurship and start-up companies. ACT is part of DOE's broader efforts to unleash American innovation by reducing barriers so industry can more easily work with our national labs. In March, DOE launched "America's Next Top Energy Innovator'" Challenge, which gives start-up companies access to the Energy Department's thousands of unlicensed patents at a greatly reduced cost and paperwork.

Last week, the Department also announced the Rooftop Solar Challenge, which allocates $12 million to support 22 regional teams. The teams compete to spur solar power deployment by cutting red tape — streamlining and standardizing permitting, zoning, metering, and connection processes - and improving finance options to reduce barriers and lower costs for residential and small commercial rooftop solar systems.

DOE's laboratories have a long tradition of working with businesses and academia on scientific research and technology development efforts that have generated many advances, spawned new businesses and supported the creation of new industries and jobs. The ACT framework joins other current DOE legal mechanisms for working with the national laboratories, including Work for Others and Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs).

Addressing input from industries based on their experience working with the laboratories, ACT authorizes:

  • A more flexible framework for negotiation of intellectual property (IP) rights to facilitate getting technology from the laboratory to the marketplace.
  • Contractors operating national laboratories to partner with businesses using terms that are better aligned with industry practice, attracting more private investment.
  • National laboratories to participate in groups formed to address complex technological challenges that are of mutual interest.

To view the FAQ on Agreements for Commercializing Technology (ACT), visit

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