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NAWCAD, National Science Foundation Working to Commercialize Technology

DC icorps

Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) physicist Dr. Frank Narducci is working with University of Maryland graduate students as well as entrepreneurial mentors as part of the DC I-Corps Fed Tech Lab Program, a rigorous and innovative initiative designed to help research labs commercialize their technologies.

Since September Dr. Narducci has been working with the students and mentors to conduct market research and explore the potential of his invention, a gradient magnetometer that isolates a signal of interest from background magnetic noise, in hopes that there is commercial demand for the tool.

"It is personally satisfying that something goes from a concept in a laboratory to something that's commercialized," he said. "If we commercialize this invention and a company or several companies start producing it, the cost comes down. Then it is widely used across the Navy. That would be the ideal goal."

Sponsored by the National Science Foundation, DC I-Corps is a partnership between the University of Maryland, Virginia Tech University, The George Washington University, and Johns Hopkins University that stimulates the mid-Atlantic region's innovation and technology sector by promoting and nurturing entrepreneurial thinking within federal laboratories. As part of the curriculum, scientists and their partners interview potential customers, conduct research, and develop a network to help them succeed in future commercialization. DC I-Corps has produced several startups that have either licensed the technology or pursued cooperative research and development agreements to explore further commercialization. DC I-Corps Fed Tech has worked with nearly twelve federal laboratories since its inception two years ago.

"Over the last two years, NAWCAD has become a strong partner to DC I-Corps", said Edmund Pendleton, Director of DC I-Corps. "We are excited to have the students in the Fed Tech program work with Dr. Narducci's technology and provide feedback to the Navy regarding the commercial potential of his inventions."

The gradient magnetometer atom interferometer, invented at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, is an atom-cooling technology that emerged in an effort to remove magnetic noise to better locate enemy submarines. In Navy usage, the sensor eliminates extra noise and focuses on signals from enemy submarines. Dr. Narducci is interested in exploring the commercialization potential of the invention, especially as it relates to underwater and underground exploration in commodities industries.

"Dr. Narducci's invention is one example of the impressive scientific breakthroughs that come through NAWCAD," said Mike Schroeder of the NAWCAD Technology Transfer Office. "The Tech Transfer Office is pleased that the innovative research occurring in southern Maryland is continuing to gain traction in the regional economy, helping to drive business growth and job creation."

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