ROGER SNODGRASS Monitor Assistant Editor
Four nuclear weapons laboratories agreed Friday to pool intellectual properties created by their scientists and engineers. The Intellectual Property Bundling Agreement (IPBA) is intended to speed up commercialization of lab technologies.
Technology Ventures Corporation of Albuquerque developed the IPBA under a cooperative agreement with the Department of Energy. TVC mentors startups and helps commercial ideas at the laboratories find investors. TVC chairman Sherman McCorkle hosted the signing in Albuquerque.
Clay Sell, Deputy Secretary of Energy, and Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., attended the event, along with the representatives of the four weapons laboratories managed by the National Nuclear Security Administration: LANL, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories and the Nevada Test Site.
In a press release Friday, Domenici said the new agreement should significantly increase the success rate for transferring technology.
"Bundling intellectual property rights for ideas generated by multiple labs will make them more readily available for development into the products and services," he said. "That will ultimately create jobs and strengthen our economic base."
Intellectual property refers specifically to patents and inventions, but also includes other kinds of creations and discoveries, like software, drawings and know-how.
Duncan McBranch, who heads the Tech Transfer Division of Los Alamos National Laboratory, said the bundling idea is a theme that has been going around universities and industries for a while now.
"There is more value in intellectual overlap than in any one thing alone," he said
McBranch said progress has been made in identifying what the clusters are.
"Ken Freese, in the intellectual property management office within my divisions, has developed a strong set of tools to analyze the patent portfolios and characterize them by what they are similar to," he said.
Among technology clusters that seemed promising, McBranch mentioned biosecurity, new materials, and data and image analysis.
In the biosecurity area, he said, there were a number of patents at LANL related to DNA detection and rapid analysis, and that Lawrence Livermore has also been working in that area.
"Each of us has 10-20 patents," he said, some of which could be available as a bundle.
Intellectual property management has become an increasingly important strategic concern for companies working in the technological arena.