Michelle Miedzinski and Rick Tarr have transformed technology transfer (T2) operations at the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) into a vital economic engine for southern Maryland.
Together, their innovative approaches are delivering dual-use successes that meet pressing Department of Defense needs, growing a network of industry and public-sector partners that has a positive impact on the local economy, and cultivating an entrepreneurial spirit at NAWCAD.
The renaissance at NAWCAD, located in Patuxent River, began with a fundamental overhaul of T2 operations. The team evaluated its tasks, streamlined procedures, and developed process maps that clearly defined each step required to complete core agreements and tasks. At the same time, the team revived the lab’s patent award ceremony to promote and recognize participation in T2. They also partnered with lab leadership to present the NAWCAD Commander’s Award for Patent of the Year.
Other initiatives included a program to bring in high-powered speakers to address topics that inspire lab scientists and engineers to collaborate with industry, and creating opportunities for newly hired junior scientists to rotate through the T2 office. One of these junior scientists became interested in entrepreneurial opportunities, formed his own company, and licensed the NAWCAD technology aluminum rich (Al-Rich).
Miedzinski and Tarr have also worked extensively to break down barriers that prevent NAWCAD scientists and engineers from collaborating with regional technology companies.
The three-pronged approach includes a partnership with the University of Maryland’s Smith Business School, establishment of a technology incubator in partnership with a statewide partnership intermediary activity and the local county government, and a program to bring together the area’s entrepreneurial and innovation partners on a regular basis through Southern Maryland Innovation and Technology.
The team’s innovativeness and creativity are best demonstrated by the licensing of Al-Rich, an anti-corrosion product developed by a NAWCAD inventor with significant health and environmental benefits over other primers. A licensing strategy was needed to maximize opportunities for commercial applications of this technology.
The pair developed a licensing strategy to manage the due diligence, allocation of domestic and international patent rights, and the successful licensing of Al-Rich coatings by 10 companies, ranging from start-ups to industry heavy hitters. According to Michael Schroeder, Director of the Business and Partnership Office at NAWCAD, “This transfer is significant not only because of its environmental and health improvements over previous available products, but also through commercialization of the technology it becomes more available to our military at a lower price through economy of scale.”
Contact: Rick Tarr, (301) 342-3400, [email protected]