Printed on: September 19, 2013

Innovations are patently obvious at Web portal

By ALEX STUCKEY
astuckey@postregister.com

Individuals interested in cutting-edge technologies now can access more than 17,000 of them with a few clicks of a mouse.

The Energy Innovation Portal houses patents from 27 partners, including national laboratories and universities, according to the website. Idaho National Laboratory is one of those laboratories, with 785 patents listed.

The portal initially was proposed by the manager of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The data is sourced from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The website helps expose national laboratory research to the outside world and commercialize otherwise lesser-known technologies.

"(The goal is) to make it easier for people outside DOE to locate technology of interest within the DOE complex," said Steve McMaster, director of technology deployment at INL.

The portal has been evolving for several years, McMaster said, and started by focusing on renewable energy technology. Because that is not INL's principal focus, initially it did not have many technologies listed. Recently, the portal expanded and more INL technologies have been included in the database.

McMaster said the portal is used by technological industries and research entities looking for scientists to collaborate with.

In the past couple of years, the lab has received several inquiries regarding technology on the website, but nothing has come from them, McMaster said.

That can be attributed to the patent in question already being licensed to an individual, he said. When that happens, the lab will refer the inquirer to the company holding the license.

The portal -- techportal.eere.energy.gov -- can be searched by technology category, patent number or laboratory name.

When an entity finds an interesting technology, it can fill out the contact form for the licensing representative from that laboratory.

Those interested in INL technology also can visit tinyurl.com/inl-licenses to view technologies available for licensing and the lab's licensing process.