An accelerated technology licensing program has helped the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (NSWC Crane), simultaneously address two seemingly opposing forces that have characterized the COVID-19 pandemic: the need for commercial activity to support economic growth and the equally critical need for health and safety precautions.
Just weeks after the pandemic began, NSWC Crane introduced the Rapid Response Licensing Program (RRLP) to rapidly transition federal research and development into the commercial sector to aid in the fight against the pandemic and stimulate the economy.
Under the RRLP, any U.S. company or entrepreneur can obtain an 18-month non-exclusive license to use an NSWC Crane technology for applications to combat the coronavirus pandemic, or a one-year non-exclusive license for any commercial application. There are no upfront fees or royalty payments for the duration of either license.
NSWC Crane also streamlined standard language for the patent license agreement and the Commercial Development Plan (CDP), which is required to show how the prospective licensee intends to take a laboratory innovation to a commercial market. These efforts have ensured rapid access to laboratory technologies for U.S. businesses and entrepreneurs and have decreased license processing time for the lab to two to three weeks from one to two months.
The RRLP originated with Jenna Dix, technology transfer director, and Annie Bullock, technology transfer and intellectual property specialist, at NSWC Crane. They expanded on an example from a peer laboratory to build the RRLP. Dix and Bullock established the NSWC Crane T2 Program as the central point of coordination for the RRLP, providing interface and coordination with external partners, prospective licensees and internal stakeholders, including laboratory leadership, scientists and engineers.
Eric VanWiltenburg, in the NSWC Crane Office of Intellectual Property, and Sean Patten and Austin Leach, both from T2 intermediary TechLink, provided critical expertise on intellectual property protection and licensing to establish and execute the program. This included helping to verify that the streamlined licensing terms and the CDP template were agreeable to the government and beneficial to prospective licensees.
This has helped to facilitate physical distancing for screeners, reducing their coronavirus exposure and limiting quarantine-related interruptions to normal hospital operations.
After just seven months, the program had already resulted in a local pitch competition, expanded support to Department of Defense accelerator and entrepreneurship programs, and a record number of calendar-year license agreements for NSWC Crane — an 80% increase.
In one notable example, NSWC Crane transferred a thermal sensor-based fever detection system to Greene County General Hospital in Indiana, where it is being used to screen incoming patients and staff. This has helped to facilitate physical distancing for screeners, reducing their coronavirus exposure and limiting quarantine-related interruptions to normal hospital operations.
If the successes to date are any indication of future impact, NSWC Crane could see another record number of partnerships facilitated by the RRLP in the coming year.
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