Captain Jeffrey T. Elder assumed command of Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane Division (NSWC Crane) in June 2014. Since assuming command, he has worked closely with the Office of Research and Technology Applications (ORTA) to expand upon the work of his predecessors by further institutionalizing technology transfer (T2) and making it a strategic tool at the lab. As a result, T2 has been elevated to unprecedented levels in terms of the size and quality of the lab’s intellectual property (IP) portfolio, numbers of signed T2 agreements, and strategic partnerships with state organizations, universities, and industry. The T2 staff and their partners have received four awards in recognition of their achievements within the last two years. Captain Elder’s leadership alone qualifies him for this award; however, what makes him exceptionally worthy is that these remarkable T2 successes occurred while the lab experienced a drastic reduction in the overhead budget from which the NSWC Crane T2 and patent programs are funded.
Captain Elder’s experience includes time served as a Secretary of Defense Corporate Fellow, when he spent one year at a host Department of Defense (DOD) industry partner, learning corporate best business practices relevant to the DOD. His interactions with industry partners have contributed to his understanding of how NSWC Crane and private industry can mutually benefit one another through T2. He has promoted Crane’s ORTA both internally and externally, and serves as a visible champion of the T2 program. Within the lab, he has encouraged scientists and managers to participate in T2, most particularly by reestablishing the IP incentive program and the inventor appreciation event. He has boosted the NSWC Crane T2 program office to even greater achievement as the lab pushes toward fulfilling its strategic—and ambitious—Grand Challenge of 1,000 pieces of intellectual property by 2020. To help achieve this goal, he promotes T2 whenever he speaks with an actual or potential industry partner and ensures that the organizations understand the benefits of Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs), patents, and patent licensing agreements (PLAs). Under Captain Elder’s leadership, the IP portfolio has increased by over 40 percent and the number of CRADAs and PLAs reached record numbers.
Other areas where Captain Elder has successfully promoted the benefits of partnering with NSWC Crane are industry interchange meetings and facility visits by prospective partners in industry, education, or state and local governments. Industry exchange meetings coordinated by Captain Elder provide opportunities for Crane and industry experts to identify common technical areas of interest where the Crane scientists could provide assistance. Captain Elder has not only continued, but has elevated and expanded the efforts begun by his predecessors to work with the ORTA and transform Crane’s T2 function into one of the lab’s showcase areas of achievement.