Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) has introduced a bill aimed at funding "microlabs" that would be used to give businesses access to equipment and personnel at national laboratories.
Heinrich said the idea is to spur the transfer of technology from the labs to the marketplace.
"If we are going to realize the true potential of technology transfer, our national labs must be able to collaborate effectively with business, entrepreneurs, investors and research universities," Heinrich said in a statement. "Obviously, we can't tear down the lab fences and security precautions that have historically limited these interactions, but we can and should create spaces in the communities where our labs reside that facilitate collaboration and commercialization. My legislation will help to build a 'front door,' literally and figuratively, where the community can interact directly with the scientists and engineers who are our laboratory's greatest assets. This will eliminate many of the barriers that have historically limited commercial technology transfer and incentivize the private sector jobs that result from successful commercialization projects."
Heinrich said the Feynman Center for Innovation at Los Alamos and the Sandia Center for Collaboration and Commercialization are examples of the type of projects he is discussing.
His bill, the Microlab Technology Commercialization Act of 2014, would authorize federal funding to help cover the national labs' share of establishing the off-site microlabs.