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TechLink: Tap into Innovation from Defense Department Laboratories

April 16, 2018 │ Authors: Yvonne Rudman, Industry Liaison, TechLink and Lynn Abramson, President Clean Energy Business Network, an initiative of the BCSE.

Are you a clean energy business interested in learning more about energy innovations coming out of the Department of Defense? If so, you should know about a free resource called TechLink.

What is TechLink?

TechLink is the Department of Defense’s national partnership intermediary. Its mission is to help businesses large and small access new technologies developed in DoD laboratories. And with about 120 DoD labs conducting research, there’s plenty of business opportunity.

How does TechLink work with businesses?

TechLink primarily helps businesses license patented DoD technologies for development into new products and services for commercial markets. Available technologies are listed in its online database, searchable by keyword or filtered by category, e.g., energy, sensors, or medical. When a business or entrepreneur finds a technology, TechLink provides it with no-cost licensing assistance. TechLink’s staff are also experienced in helping businesses conduct mutually beneficial research with DoD laboratories. These partnerships are formed through Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs). TechLink does NOT help companies obtain DoD contracts or install projects at DoD facilities.

The best part, TechLink is funded by the DoD, meaning businesses don’t pay for its help:

  • Evaluate DoD inventions and submit license applications
  • Facilitate communications between DoD labs and companies leading to “win-win” license agreement
  • Partner with DoD labs for joint technology research and development
  • Gain access to unique, world-class DoD research facilities
  • Compete more effectively for DoD SBIR/STTR funding for new technology development

What technologies does TechLink address?

TechLink organizes the DoD’s available technologies into 10 areas: Energy, Materials, Sensors, Photonics, Software/Info Technology, Bio-Technology, Military Technology, Electronics, Communications and Environmental technologies.

For example, researchers at the Air Force’s Materials and Manufacturing Directorate’s improved roll-to-roll manufacturing of perovskite thin-film solar cells technology is available to businesses for commercialization.

What is TechLink’s track record of success?

  • TechLink has facilitated 600 license agreements between DoD and companies nationwide, transferring over 1,000 DoD inventions to industry
  • TechLink has also brokered more than 1,270 technology transfer partnerships between companies and DoD labs or centers
  • Most DoD inventions have civilian and commercial applications: DoD technology licenses facilitated by TechLink have generated $1.6 billion in direct sales and $4.4 billion in total economic impact.

How can you learn more and get started?

1) If you are interested in licensing existing technologies:

First, read more about how to license technology from defense laboratories.

Search TechLink’s Technology Database and check the Technology Spotlight regularly for updates on available technologies and contact information for the related technology managers. Once you identify a technology of interest, reach out and the technology manager will help you assess suitability for your company needs, facilitate your connection with DoD, and walk you through the licensing process.

2) If you are interested in partnering with the DoD on R&D of your technology:

Read this brief overview of DOD Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs).  Then, research the TechLink Technology Database and list of DoD Research Laboratories to get a better sense of the types of innovations that may be of interest to the DoD. If you see a technology that is similar to your own, the associated laboratory may be interested in conducting research together. Contact a Technology Manager to find out more.

3) When you’re ready to reach out to TechLink:

Complete TechLink’s contact form, and the appropriate staff will get back to you about your interest. There’s also a Technology Manager listed on each technology, with phone number and email.

4) Other helpful resources:

Listen to this interview featuring Marti Elder, Senior Technology Manager at TechLink on Green Connections Radio for more information.

Before getting involved in licenses and patents, check out the CEBN’s recorded webinar, What Clean Tech Entrepreneurs Need to Know about Intellectual Property.

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This post was originally published on the Clean Energy Business Network’s blog on March 30, 2018.