WASHINGTON, D.C. (Sept. 12, 2017) —Today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich and U.S. Representatives Michelle Lujan Grisham and Ben Ray Luján introduced bicameral legislation to authorize an Energy Technology Maturation Program at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to facilitate successful commercialization of laboratory-developed technologies and boost regional, technology-driven economic impact.
Senator Heinrich, a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, announced the legislation during a Subcommittee on Energy hearing today on the contributions of the DOE's national laboratories. In the hearing, Senator Heinrich expressed the need to make it easier for the private sector to engage with national laboratories to commercialize innovative technology.
"New Mexico's national labs play a critical role in both national security and development of advanced energy technologies. By improving the process to transfer innovative technologies from the labs to the private sector, we can spur innovation, boost our private tech industry, and create jobs," said Heinrich. "Providing a steady stream of technologies yields dividends in commercial markets and creates an environment that strengthens our economy while encouraging future innovators to discover the next breakthrough idea."
"I have encouraged our national labs, including Sandia, to expand their economic footprint in the state – by contracting with more New Mexico businesses and encouraging public-private partnerships," said Lujan Grisham. "This new program dramatically increases the potential to develop energy technology produced at the labs and move it into private industry, creating private-sector jobs in New Mexico." "
"One of my top priorities in Congress is improving New Mexico's economy and creating good jobs through stronger partnerships between our national labs and our local businesses," said Luján. "The path to maturing new discoveries into commercial technologies and transferring them to the private sector has traditionally faced a number of obstacles. Our bill addresses many of these challenges and brings together stakeholders to provide solutions and lower the barriers to technology transfer."
The effective transfer of technologies from DOE facilities to businesses that can turn them into commercial successes is an essential element of the country's innovation ecosystem and critical to U.S. competitiveness in an increasingly demanding, technology-driven global market. Technology maturation funding accelerates the successful transfer of technologies licensed from national laboratories and can often provide the necessary link between an innovative process for technology and a real-world application with powerful market potential.
Under the Energy Technology Maturation Program, funding would be provided to help increase the maturity of technologies developed at DOE facilities with the goal of attracting a private partner that is willing to support the technology's next steps to commercialization. The program would also provide funding to support cooperative development of a technology where a specific commercial partner has already been identified. Priority would be given to private-sector partnerships with small businesses.
A copy of the bipartisan Energy Technology Maturation Program Act of 2017 introduced by Heinrich and cosponsored by U.S. Senators Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) is available here.