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Posted: October 28, 2008
U.S. Energy Department Streamlines Access to high-tech user facilities at DOE National Laboratories
(Nanowerk News) The U.S. Department of Energy’s ( DOE’s) Technology Transfer Coordinator, Under Secretary for Science Dr. Raymond L. Orbach, announced today two new model agreements that will expand access to DOE’s world-class research facilities by academia and industry. The streamlined agreements will also simplify the process for gaining access to DOE facilities and promote the transfer of cutting-edge technologies from DOE national laboratories.
“This new approach will allow both university and industrial researchers greater access to our specialized, world-class facilities across the laboratory system and to work more closely with our scientists on real world problems and potential solutions,” said Dr. Orbach.
Pre-approved, standardized model agreements—one for proprietary research; the other for non-proprietary research—are now authorized for use at all designated DOE user facilities at all DOE laboratories. Prospective users may use the same applicable general agreement at every facility. The agreements are intended to require minimal, if any, further negotiation and to be quickly executable.
Some of the Nation’s most advanced R&D user facilities are located at DOE national laboratories. These include nanoscale science research centers, synchrotron light sources, neutron scattering facilities and supercomputers. DOE Office of Science user facilities alone collectively serve more than 20,000 users annually from academia, national laboratories and industry. DOE expects that that total number of users could more than double in the next decade as these new agreements are fully implemented across DOE laboratories and facilities.
For well over a decade, user-facility agreements have been successfully utilized for proprietary and non-proprietary research at selected DOE Office of Science-funded user facilities. More recently, the agreements have been implemented at DOE’s five Nanoscale Science Research Centers for collaborative, non-commercial research. The authority to use more streamlined versions of these proven agreements is now extended to all other DOE laboratories and facilities that are approved as “designated user facilities,” including those operated under DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration.
DOE recognizes the Nation’s need to engage industry and universities in both basic science and commercial research, and seeks to encourage the use of its cutting-edge facilities to leverage DOE’s substantial investments in these research tools. For commercial research, researchers may elect the proprietary user agreement, under which users pay the full cost for use of specialized DOE laboratory equipment and, with limited exceptions, keep as proprietary the technical data produced as well as any new inventions. For non-commercial, basic science research, researchers may elect the non-proprietary user agreement, under which the user pays only the costs of its own research with the DOE laboratory and may access specialized laboratory equipment and collaborate with laboratory scientists. Data produced under non-proprietary research is publicly available. The non-proprietary user agreement is expected to be particularly beneficial in facilitating the access of universities to DOE’s national scientific facilities.
The agreements are a significant step in implementing Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman’s January 31, 2008 Policy Statement on Technology Transfer, which, among other things, calls for “a major review and revision as appropriate of the Department’s technology transfer policies with the goal of accelerating and simplifying the process of transferring technology.”
The laboratories will use a rigorous, merit review process to select researchers who will have access to the facilities. The Access to High Technology User Facilities at DOE National Laboratories page has the model agreements, along with the current list of 34 DOE designated user facilities. This list will be updated as needed.