New leadership and direction for industrial partnerships
What once was the Lab's Industrial Partnerships and Commercialization (IPAC) office now has a new name and a new director.
Its new name is the Industrial Partnerships Office (IPO). And its new director is Erik Stenehjem (sten-yem).
"The reason for our name change is to place an added emphasis on the importance we see of building work-for-others collaborations with industry," Stenehjem said.
Stenehjem comes to the Laboratory with the experience of working in different capacities for 24 years with Columbus, Ohio-based Battelle.
Most recently, he served for 18 months as the science and technology adviser to Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski. He also worked for Battelle in technology commercialization and started new technology-based ventures with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
Stenehjem started at the Lab Oct. 1, replacing Karena McKinley, who retired in June. Roger Werne, the former associate director for Engineering who oversaw much of the Laboratory's tech transfer activities in the early 1990s, agreed to be Stenehjem's deputy and assist him in acclimating to LLNL.
"I love working at the Laboratory. We have a great group of people and we’re coming up with new ways to do technology transfer.
"This may be the best technology commercialization group that no one has ever heard of," Stenehjem said. "I was blown away by the talent we have here. It made an impression on me."
Among IPO's seven business development specialists and Stenehjem's management team, six staffers have Ph.D.s in science or engineering, five are attorneys, three have experience with technology start-up firms and most have industrial experience.
For the future, Stenehjem wants to see significant increases in two particular areas of IPO’s efforts — the volume of the Laboratory's work with industry and the Laboratory's return on investment in licensing and commercialization.
"We’d like to double our number of licenses and double the amount of our industry-funded research. We would like our work with industry to become a significant component of the Laboratory's research portfolio," he said.
In December, a three-member panel of technology transfer professionals conducted a two-day "functional management review" of the Lab’s IPO operation.
The panel offered two important recommendations.
First, the Laboratory should better focus its scarce patenting resources on protecting intellectual property that could demonstrably lead to increased LLNL research and development programs and new commercial licenses.
Second, the panel urged that more resources be devoted to the filing and prosecution of Livermore patents.
In the past 2006-07 fiscal year, the activities of the Industrial Partnerships Office produced 20 new licenses, $6.7 million in royalty income, 12 new cooperative research and development agreements, 100 software licenses and 64 U.S. patent applications filed.