WASHINGTON (November 19, 2014) –Following the introduction of the Microlab Technology Commercialization Act of 2014 (MTCA) by U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Matthew Stepp, Executive Director of ITIF’s Center for Clean Energy Innovation (CCEI) issues the following statement:
“As CCEI and the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program noted in Going Local: Connecting the National Labs to their Regions for Innovation and Growth, the Department of Energy’s National Laboratory system is a tremendous resource that currently conducts $12.5 billion in publicly funded R&D annually on a wide range of national issues, including high performance computing, energy innovation and advanced manufacturing. Unfortunately, legacy operating procedures limit the Labs’ ability to successfully transfer technologies from research to market, while also reducing engagement with the regional economies in which they are located. This environment has limited the system’s ability to promote transformative innovation and reduced its overall contributions to U.S. economic growth.
The MTCA would assist in addressing this policy gap through the establishment of off-campus micro labs that would serve as the "front-door" to the nation’s various national laboratories. They would provide academia, local government, businesses owners, and communities’ direct access to laboratory equipment, facilities, and personnel, while also increasing community engagement and partnership opportunities.
In concert with other reform efforts—such as the House’s Department of Energy Laboratory Modernization and Technology Transfer Act, and its Senate companion the America INNOVATES Act—the micro lab initiative will enable the National Labs to be more engaged with regional economic development efforts, more responsive to industry collaboration, and more capable of producing the next-generation innovations essential to addressing national economic and societal issues.
We urge Congress to move as quickly as possible to make these needed reforms to enhance the connection between the National Labs and regional innovation clusters for the benefit of the U.S. innovation ecosystem and the growth of the economy.”
The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) is a non-profit, non-partisan think tank whose mission is to formulate and promote public policies to advance technological innovation and productivity internationally, in Washington, and in the states. Recognizing the vital role of technology in ensuring prosperity, ITIF focuses on innovation, productivity, and digital economy issues. Learn more at www.itif.org.