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Building Effective Industry-Federal Lab Partnerships


Are you interested in expanding your company’s R&D base and/or IP portfolio? Each year federal laboratories conduct over $40 billion of fundamental and applied research, much of which is in technical areas aligned with industrial interests. Organized by the federal labs that are members of IRI, this session provides a partnering primer for those interested in tapping into and capitalizing on the federal labs’ capabilities. The session covers:

  • Lessons learned and best practices from successful (and unsuccessful) industry-lab partnerships;
  • Practical perspectives and “myth-busting” from IRI industry and lab members on what’s worked, not worked, and why;
  • Summary of effective relationship building / matching making approaches and lab-industry partnership models
Participants leave the session with:

  • a better understanding of the value of lab collaboration;
  • knowledge on where to start when looking for a lab collaborator:
  • knowledge of the types/methods of collaboration that could be most successful.
Team: Ben Cook, Sandia National Laboratories, IRI Federal Lab Activity Group (FLAG) Chair; Linda Ham, NASA, Flag Co-Chair; Luc Adriaenssens, CommScope; Gretchen Baier, Dow Chemical Company; Peter Christensen, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory; Thomas Mulkern, US Army Research Laboratory; Courtney Silverthorn, National Institute of Standards and Technology (representing the Federal Laboratory Consortium); James Unterreiner, Shell


  • Luc Adriaenssens, SVP of Technology, CommScope, Inc

    As senior vice president of technology, Luc is focused on long-range strategic growth plans including incremental investments to drive organic growth and acquisitions.

    During his 30 years in the business, he has held positions in product management and positions of increasing responsibility in R&D and technology management. He has negotiated numerous patent licensing agreements as well as development agreements with both US national labs and US-based universities.

    Luc holds BSEE, MSEE and MBA degrees from Georgia Tech, U.C. Berkeley and Purdue. He also holds 22 active US and foreign patents and applications which have grossed tens of millions of dollars in royalties.

  • Gretchen Baier, Associate R&D Director, External Technololgy, Dow Chemical Company

    The External Technology Group is responsible for identifying and facilitating sponsored research with universities, research institutes, and other external partners around the world. The team also is responsible for creating a pipeline of R&D collaborations with government agencies and laboratories and developing win-win partnerships.

    Currently, Gretchen chairs the Advisory Board of the Critical Materials Institute, a Department of Energy Innovation Hub, and co-leads the Project Committee for the University-Industry Demonstration Partnership organization.

    Her previous roles in Dow have been as a technical leader in Ventures and New Business Development and as a chemical engineer in the Process Optimization group and the Process Separations Skill Center.

    Gretchen has a PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, a B.S. from M.I.T., and is a licensed Professional Engineer.

    • Peter Christensen, Manager, Technology Commercialization, PNNL

      Peter also serves as the acting director of PNNL’s Technology Deployment and Outreach department. This group is responsible for the identification, protection, and management of intellectual property created at the Laboratory, and they are responsible for the licensing and deployment of these technologies.

      Prior to joining PNNL, Peter worked as a patent attorney and as the VP of engineering and intellectual property for a leading PEM fuel cell developer. Peter has also worked for an energy consulting company where he helped large industrial users prepare for and take advantage of the increasingly complex and changing electrical power markets.

      Peter holds a BS degree in electrical engineering from the University of Minnesota and a juris doctor from the University of New Hampshire School of Law (formerly Franklin Pierce Law Center). He is a member of the Licensing Executives Society (LES), the Battelle Commercialization Council (chair), and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Technology Transfer Working Group. Peter is also a member of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Patent Bar.

    • Courtney Silverthorn, Deputy Director of the Technology Partnership Office, NIST

      Dr. Silverthorn coordinates cross-agency technology transfer policy efforts through the Lab to Market program and various interagency working groups, as well as overseeing NIST-centric and agency-wide economic analysis on the impact of federal technology transfer. She came to NIST in 2014 as a Senior Interagency Policy Specialist before moving into her current role, and has accumulated an extensive background in federal tech transfer through several positions, first as a fellow in the National Cancer Institute's Technology Transfer Center, and then at the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research, the FFRDC operated by Leidos Biomedical Research, Inc. on behalf of the National Cancer Institute, where she held positions in the Intellectual Property Office and the Partnership Development Office. She also serves as the Host Agency Representative on the Federal Laboratory Consortium's Executive Board, previously holding roles as the FLC Mid-Atlantic Regional Coordinator and Deputy Regional Coordinator. Dr. Silverthorn earned a PhD in Pharmacology from The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a BS in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Sweet Briar College, and is currently pursuing a Certificate in Policy Strategy from The Brookings Institution.

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