Many technology transfer professionals see paperwork as a necessary evil. Chris Bond saw it as an opportunity to enhance the commercialization of technologies developed at the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and improve the experiences of the lab’s researchers and administrators.
Within a few short months of joining NETL in 2019 as a technology transfer specialist, Bond applied his personal interest in databases and programming and experience in academic technology transfer to implement a significant overhaul of NETL’s set of tech transfer tools.
Bond’s efforts have helped fuel notable improvements in lab productivity, including a 27% increase in the number of executed partnership agreements, a quadrupling of expected research expenditures and a sixfold increase in direct “funds-in” to NETL. In addition, he has personally executed, at last count, 52 agreements and amendments with cumulative research expenditures of $22.6 million, including $3.9 million funds-in.
One of his most significant contributions was a reimagining of NETL’s internal agreement routing documentation, including the creation of a new Agreement Development and Approval Form that helped move existing legacy Word documents into a web-based user interface, decreasing the time an agreement spends “in process.” His process revisions cut 31 linear processing steps down to 12, some of which can now be accomplished in parallel (leading to a 61% reduction in granular touch points).
Bond’s accomplishments have been driven by his talent for personal communication, particularly for making the tech transfer process—from Nondisclosure Agreements (NDAs) to Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs)—easier for researchers to navigate. He held one-on-one discussions with key NETL research staff to understand bottlenecks and friction points from their perspectives and incorporated their feedback into business process updates.
After working with leadership and legal counsel to secure approvals, Bond then personally educated researchers about the streamlined processes. He explained how the new framework complies with federal legislation, how it enhances due diligence and oversight, and how the updated process would lead to more external tech transfer partnership opportunities.
“NDAs are now very streamlined and only take a few weeks, which allows us to have more in-depth discussions with industry, leading to more CRADA and partnership connections,” said NETL researcher Christina Wildfire.
Some of Bond’s key contributions are less easily quantified. For example, after identifying a notable gap in NETL’s standard CRADA template of site-support contractor language pertaining to intellectual property under the Baye-Dole Act, Bond took action to eliminate potential barriers to commercialization it might have presented.
Bond also has played an active role in major lab-wide initiatives that complement the overall technology transfer process. These include integration of the U.S. Treasury’s new electronic “G-Invoicing” system for interagency work orders and improvement and standardization of project cost estimating templates and processes across the Research Partnerships and Delivery directorate.
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