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NSWC Crane employee sees expansion, innovation in Technology Transfer future

By NSWC Crane Corporate Communications | June 25, 2019

CRANE, Ind. – Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (NSWC Crane) is a national leader in Technology Transfer (T2), leveraging the Federal government’s entire suite of partnership capabilities to support the lab’s mission through commercialization of the lab’s assets and by interacting with the private sector, academia, and state and local governments.

John Dement, NSWC Crane’s former T2 Director (2007-2014) and recently reelected chair of the Federal Laboratory Consortium (FLC), sees only growth for T2 in future – at Crane, in the capital, and across the country.

“In 2018, the current administration made T2 one of its top priorities – the first time ever,” said Dement. “The Lab to Market effort has been ushered into the forefront, making T2 at Crane and what we do at FLC more relevant than ever.”

One responsibility of the FLC is telling the story of T2 – the benefits, impact, and motivation behind it. The FLC also trains T2 professionals and connects the private sector with specific labs for technology transfer.

The growing recognition and prioritization of technology transfer has allowed NSWC Crane’s T2 team to push ahead with new initiatives and have a record year for growth in 2018. The team was nationally honored with the Department of Defense (DoD) George Lindsteadt Technology Transfer award, which celebrates DoD T2 professionals who have been influential in building or implementing T2 partnerships. Crane is the only federal laboratory to win this award twice.  

The NSWC Crane team also implemented express licensing to businesses, becoming the first laboratory in the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) to offer the innovative approach. The group also renewed, expanded, or created new partnerships over 100 different entities. The T2 team also boasts a robust Partnership Intermediary (PIA) network and an active partnership with NSWC Crane’s Corporate Communications, has been a part of several economic impact studies, and integrates Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and T2 deftly.

 “If we’re going to stay on the cutting edge of leading technologies, we need to be able to effectively leverage the expertise in industry and academia,” said Jenna Dix, NSWC Crane’s Technology Transfer Manager.  “When the DoD’s leading scientists and engineers are able to partner with their peers outside the fence line, they’re able to more quickly solve tough technological challenges and deliver solutions to the warfighter in a more rapid manner.”

The FLC’s role is to promote, educate, and facilitate lab technology transfer, a mission that can have some complications.

“There’s healthy tension between making tax payer-funded innovation available for commercial purposes and federal laboratories’ mission-supporting efforts,” said Dement. “These two items appear to be at odds – and are often mistaken as such – but the magic of technology transfer is in the intersection of the two.”

Dement’s history allows him to bring a unique perspective to his role as FLC chair, one that he hopes to leverage into helping resolve the perceived tension mentioned above. He worked in private industry as a structural engineer before working for the Navy. Once at Crane, he was a Systems Engineer in the Program Office, (Washington, D.C.), a Science Advisor to the Pacific Fleet’s Maintenance Officer in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and lead NSWC Crane’s T2 office for seven years. He was then loaned to the State of Indiana in 2015 and 2016 to support a statewide technology transfer (T2) and commercialization model and capability leveraging federally funded innovations and assets. 

The future of technology transfer belongs to the trailblazers in the field, and Dement sees Crane as an incredible agent for change.

“Crane is one of the premier T2 labs and innovators in the field,” said Dement. “The skillsets and knowledge have transcended individuals to become an institutionalized and strategic Crane capability, one that can only – and will only – grow from here.”

NSWC Crane is a naval laboratory and a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) with mission areas in Expeditionary Warfare, Strategic Missions and Electronic Warfare. The warfare center is responsible for multi-domain, multi- spectral, full life cycle support of technologies and systems enhancing capability to today's Warfighter.