Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Thomas F. Gioconda

Thomas F. Gioconda

Deputy Director of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

A Tradition of Technological Breakthroughs with Commercial Success

Location, location, location. Real estate professionals might say Lawrence Livermore, perched on the eastern edge of California’s Silicon Valley, is perfectly situated to participate in the nation’s booming technology sector. Indeed, our national and global security missions require continual advancements in science and technology, and our researchers are regularly recognized for innovative achievements—particularly those with both security and industrial applications.

The Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer (FLC) honors outstanding research and development (R&D) efforts across its network of more than 300 laboratories. Over the years, Livermore has earned several national FLC awards for Outstanding Technology Development, Outstanding Commercialization Success, Outstanding Partnerships, and Interagency Partnership. In the past decade, we have also won 28 FLC regional awards, most recently for WiBSAFE (wireless battery sensing and failure eliminator) and for our partnership with two companies licensing a geothermal silica-extraction technology. Livermore scientists also frequently receive annual R&D 100 awards for inventive technology, and 2016 was no exception. (See S&TR, January/February 2017, Novel Scintillator Improves X-Ray Imaging; Toolset Promotes Carbon-Capture Solution; Fabricating the World's Thinnest Plastic Wrap; and Revealing the Presence of Hidden Nuclear Materials.) The Laboratory placed 25th in Reuters’ 2017 list of the world’s most innovative research institutions, where rankings are determined by criteria such as scholarly and industry publications, academic citations, and the ratio of patents filed to patents granted.

Yet these accolades tell only part of the story. In fact, Livermore has a many-decades-long history of facilitating technology transfer and encouraging entrepreneurship. As the feature article, Ready, Set, Innovate! Entrepreneurship Flourishes at the Laboratory, details, the Industrial Partnerships Office (IPO) recognizes some of our legacies in the Laboratory’s Entrepreneurs’ Hall of Fame, which boasts an impressive catalog of invention, collaboration, and determination. These 19 Hall of Fame alumni—5 of whom are profiled in the article—have made significant contributions to both the Laboratory and commercial markets. Their work evolves as industries change, and in many cases, their achievements continue to accumulate. Looking ahead to the next round of inductees, I am reminded that these success stories are evidence of our continuing journey of “Science on a Mission” in service to our nation.

IPO actively engages with industries to market Laboratory ideas. For instance, IPO helps researchers find commercial opportunities and navigate their entrepreneurial journeys. IPO staff also manage a large portfolio of licenses and other agreements, which yield royalty income for the Laboratory, sustained success for inventors, and real-world solutions for urgent problems. This relationship is truly a win–win–win situation.

The Laboratory also invests in programs that educate prospective entrepreneurs about promoting, protecting, and evolving their ideas. One such program is Energy I-Corps, part of the Department of Energy’s new National Laboratory Accelerator Program. (See the article From the Laboratory to the World.) Energy I-Corps provides a comprehensive approach to improving participants’ business acumen. Program graduates find themselves better equipped to handle the rigors of writing an engaging business plan and selling their discovery to investors.

This issue also highlights current research beginning to make its way outside Laboratory gates. For instance, innovations in carbon fiber composites are leading to enhanced structures and other advancements to meet industry demands for stronger, more adaptable feedstocks in additive manufacturing. (See the article A New Composite-Manufacturing Approach Takes Shape.) Another homegrown technology gaining traction with a wider audience is the three-dimensional multiphysics code ALE3D. (See the article A National Security Code Is Reborn for Industry.) ALE3D exemplifies the increased attention that Livermore simulation capabilities are receiving as more and more industries rely on high-performance computing to solve problems. Similar Laboratory-developed examples abound beyond the pages of this issue.

Livermore’s technology-transfer reputation is built by leaders who understand industry needs and nurture emerging technologies, and by our researchers’ constant pursuit of innovative solutions. As the Laboratory marks its 65th anniversary, we are renewing our commitment to strong industry relationships that will enable us to further contribute to the U.S. economy and bolster the nation’s security. Our tradition of innovation—backed by the hard work, dedication, and intellect of our researchers—is indeed forging a brighter future for the nation.