2012 Laboratory Director of the Year Far West

Technology transfer has flourished at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) since Michael Kluse took the
helm as Laboratory Director in January 2007. Patent activity has kept and exceeded the per capita average among
Department of Energy (DOE) laboratories, numerous key licenses have been executed with both small and large companies, major commercialization- focused grants have been secured, and licensing returns to the Laboratory—and their subsequent reinvestment in new commercially promising research—have reached record levels. To top it off , national awards recognizing this level of excellence in transferring breakthrough technologies to industry have been rolling in at a steady rate.
During Kluse’s five-year tenure, PNNL has received numerous national commercializationfocused awards, including 16 R&D 100 Awards and 12 FLC Awards for Excellence in Technology Transfer. In late 2010, one of PNNL’s most prolific inventors was recognized with R&D Magazine’s highest honor, Scientist of the Year, a fi rst for a scientist at any DOE laboratory in the awards program’s 45-year history. Under Kluse’s leadership, and with his involvement, PNNL played a leadership role in transforming Washington State’s multiple, underfunded technology transfer organizations into a single, innovative, statewide, quasi-public organization. Th is required restructuring several state agencies and independent programs into a single organization that focuses on delivering services with the direct input and involvement of industry partners. To build broad support for this eff ort, Kluse brought together the state’s universities, high tech and business associations, clean energy businesses, and environmental organizations to build a strong coalition for the restructure. Th e new organization, Innovate Washington, operates as a nonprofi t rather than a state program, which allows the organization to partner with and receive funding from a much wider range of partners, including industry, nonprofi ts, and venture capital partners.
Kluse also uses his leadership position to infl uence policy. By speaking frequently at major
events in the state, region and around the country, he reinforces the message that strategic alignment
of research with technology transfer directed at outcomes will yield greater social and economic
benefi ts for our nation.
Award Year: 
Far West