News | Dec 4, 2019

Naval Research Lab rolls out ‘express licensing’ of patented inventions

Businesses can see pricing, apply online

Microbial electrochemical reactors are being studied by scientists at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C. These specific reactors are being used to study microbial diodes which may be part of living electrical circuits.

Jonathan Steffen/Navy

The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory’s technology transfer office is offering businesses and entrepreneurs the ability to license the lab’s inventions online, an effort to attract private firms that can commercialize its emerging technologies.

On Wednesday, 55 technologies invented by the lab’s scientists and engineers were made available via “express licensing,” a web portal that features upfront pricing and a short online application that removes weeks and months from the licensing process. In contrast, traditional license agreements often include negotiations over fees, require more paperwork and legal review.

The research behind the Navy inventions, ranging from a benthic microbial fuel cell to tidal prediction software, and their commercial patent rights, can now be acquired by businesses for commercialization starting at $2,500.

“Government tech transfer deals often take longer than six months but businesses need to move faster,” said Austin Leach, associate director of TechLink, a national partnership intermediary that helps the Department of Defense get its research adopted by private companies.

“Express licensing improves deal flow by setting costs upfront and allowing businesses to submit their license applications online. We’ve already seen agreements inked at another Navy lab in two weeks,” Leach said.

The Department of Defense is the largest sponsor of federally funded research in the United States. With nearly $20 billion in funding, its research centers and laboratories produce between 700-800 patented inventions each year.

Many of the DOD’s inventions are practical, solve real-world problems, and have been prototyped and tested, increasing their commercial potential.

NRL isn’t the first defense lab to explore the express licensing model, but as the Navy’s flagship R&D institution, the decision may influence other labs also hoping to see their inventions move to the private sector for commercialization.

And the technologies selected are only a sampling of the lab’s tech portfolio, which contains roughly 1,000 patents. NRL’s tech transfer office, led by Amanda Horansky McKinney, said more inventions will be available on the express licensing platform soon.

View Available NRL Technologies