CHICAGO—A joint venture between the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory marks another step forward in the burgeoning campaign to hasten the transfer of technology from the laboratory to the marketplace.
The new corporation will be responsible for developing business applications for discoveries made not only at Argonne, which is operated by the university for the Department of Energy, but also within the various university laboratories. The new joint venture makes use of a 1984 federal law that gives contractors the patent rights in advance for work done in the laboratory and paid for by the government.
The dozen laboratories operated for the Department of Energy by private contractors are expected to follow differing strategies for commercializing discoveries. Martin Marietta Energy Systems, which operates Oak Ridge National Laboratory, has expanded its own technology transfer division to nurture good ideas, while Battelle Development Corporation, which for the past 20 years has operated Pacific Northwest Laboratory, searches for investors to license and market discoveries from PNL and other Battelle laboratories.
“Nobody is trying to dictate what a lab and its contractor should do,” said Alan Claflin of the Department. “The point is to get the ideas out the door more quickly.”
Academic research could be strengthened by thinking more and doing less.