Heinrich Leads Bipartisan Legislation To Establish Tech-Transfer Maturation Program

The Energy Technology Maturation Program Act would help national laboratories work with the private sector to commercialize innovative energy technology

WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 2, 2019) - Today, U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) reintroduced legislation to authorize an Energy Technology Maturation Program at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to facilitate successful commercialization of laboratory-developed energy technologies and boost regional, technology-driven economic impact. 

Senator Heinrich, a member on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, has led the effort to make it easier for the private sector to engage with national laboratories to commercialize innovative technology.
“In New Mexico, we are proud to be home to two of the Department of Energy’s largest laboratories – Los Alamos and Sandia – that play critical roles in both national security and the development of advanced energy technologies,” said Heinrich. “This bill is a bipartisan effort to bridge the gap between lab research and development by improving the process of transferring innovative technologies – with considerable market potential – from the labs to the private sector. Providing a steady stream of technologies creates an environment that strengthens New Mexico’s economy through job creation, federal research investments, and marketable commercial products.”
“The National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) headquartered in Golden, Colorado, along with other Department of Energy labs around the country, develop cutting-edge technologies that the public and private sector benefit from,” said Gardner. “Every $1 of taxpayer funds invested through NREL results in $5 of private investment and the lab’s more than $1.1 billion nationwide annual nationwide economic impact can be even greater with the continued success of the Energy Technology Maturation Program. This bipartisan bill will create jobs and grow the economy and continue to ensure the United States remains a global leader in technological innovation.”
“Illinois is home to two of the nation’s most valued national research institutions—Argonne and Fermi National Laboratories—and they are critical to U.S. economic growth. This bill enhances the labs’ ability to transfer its groundbreaking innovations and research into the private sector, which will create economic progress and support local economies,” said Durbin.
“The Department of Energy (DOE) plays an important role in developing the cutting edge technologies we need to lead the world in energy innovation. In West Virginia, the National Energy Technology Lab (NETL) and West Virginia’s universities are spearheading these efforts. The Energy Technology and Maturation Act better enables DOE and our national labs to deploy the technologies they are developing, with a priority placed on partnerships with small businesses. This will drive economic growth, innovation, and job creation, and ensure our national labs are able to reach their full potential,” said Manchin.
U.S. Representative Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) introduced a companion bill in the House of Representatives.
“One of New Mexico’s greatest assets is the technology being developed at our national labs, but often those technologies aren’t quite ready for the market,” said Haaland. “We’re working to make tech transfer a smoother, more effective process by helping the Department of Energy get new technology ready for entrepreneurs and industries in our state to hit the ground running creating good paying jobs and diversifying our economy.”
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 Energy Technology Maturation Program Act of 2019 is available HERE.