Honors Gallery

Dr. Bob Westervelt

Award: Outstanding Technology Transfer Professional

Year: 2021

Award Type: National

Sandia National Laboratories (SNL)

Bob Westervelt brings a unique background as both a laboratory scientist and a business executive to his role as licensing executive at Sandia National Laboratories — expertise that is evident in his ability to craft licensing agreements that benefit all parties. 

With a PhD in nuclear physics, Westervelt worked as a physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory before leaving to help commercialize lab-developed control system software at Vista Control Systems — his introduction to technology transfer. 

At Peerless Systems Corp., a digital imaging company, he learned even more about licensing and intellectual property (IP). As chief technology officer, he worked closely with the business development team negotiating licenses with customers. 

As vice president of engineering, he worked closely with the chief financial officer on revenue recognition. Peerless’ assets and IP were sold, and Westervelt was heavily involved in the negotiations.

Westervelt came to Sandia National Laboratories to work in licensing in 2012, using his skills to transfer a wide variety of Sandia technologies to the private sector. His creative licensing solutions have included licenses to allow companies to provide training for free emergency response software, a license focused on royalties for an enabling technology for medical isotopes, and a capacity-based licensing plan for a company planning to sell on-site hydrogen production units.

Westervelt has developed many of the licensing templates used for Sandia’s technology transfer program and trained the T2 staff on best practices. These include novel ways to handle licensing to start-up companies and more effective ways to compensate the lab and its inventors without taking equity.

Westervelt also has been involved in a large number of inter-laboratory collaborations to improve tech transfer practices. 

Westervelt has developed many of the licensing templates used for Sandia’s technology transfer program and trained the T2 staff on best practices.

A concept Westervelt developed called High Value Licensing now helps licensing staff analyze and articulate the value of licensing efforts. Value is not only measured as income to Sandia; benefits to the public and the U.S. economy are also important.

For the technology transfer of Microsystems Enabled Photovoltaics (MEPV) to mPower Technology (see page 18 for more details), Westervelt decided some flexibility was needed to handle the large IP portfolio. The License Option Agreement (LOA) included business milestones that mPower had to achieve to be able to exercise the option and a longer than normal time to reach these milestones. Uniquely, among the 20 patents in the LOA was a group that Sandia agreed to not license for six months while mPower determined whether it needed them. A full commercial license for 17 patents was executed in January 2017, just four months after mPower elected to exercise the LOA — a very short time for a license of this complexity. 

For collaborations involving Sandia’s academic partners, Westervelt has worked to create commercialization paths for jointly developed IP. Many agreements have involved joint projects between Sandia and the University of New Mexico (UNM) and its commercialization organization, UNM Rainforest Innovations.

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