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Department of Energy Laboratory Modernization and Technology Transfer Act of 2014

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. KILMER. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 5120, the Department of Energy Laboratory Modernization and Technology Transfer Act of 2014.

In the report, ``Rising above the Gathering Storm,'' Paul Otellini, the former CEO of Intel, challenged Congress and challenged the Nation to step up the innovation challenge to grow our economy.

Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist George Will wrote, ``Without a change in U.S. Government policy, the next big thing will not be invented here. Jobs will not be created here, and wealth will not accrue here.''

I would like to thank the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Hultgren) and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for working together to produce a bipartisan bill targeted at stepping up to that challenge.

Our national labs are currently doing innovative research that can hit roadblocks on the path to commercialization, on the path to helping small business run with those innovations, so this bill provides important tools to spur and accelerate the transfer of new technologies developed at our national laboratories and to the private sector.

It significantly broadens the range of companies that can participate in a new pilot program with our Federal labs and allows for more flexible partnership agreement terms between the public and private sectors.

The bill also allows labs to use their technology transfer funds for activities that identify and demonstrate potential commercial opportunities for their research and technologies.

These partnerships between our national labs and the business community will help eliminate gaps in funding by facilitating a path for innovative ideas from basic research to commercial application.

Let me tell you why this matters to me. The region I represent is home to the Pacific Northwest National Lab facility, and I have seen firsthand the innovative research being done there.

I have also worked closely with our premier research universities to find ways to enable exciting new partnership opportunities. So going beyond just the labs, this bill removes burdens that currently prevent many universities and other nonprofit research institutions from working with the Department of Energy.

This bill also streamlines management and coordination of DOE's full spectrum of energy activities, from basic research through commercial application, by establishing a single Under Secretary for Science and Energy.

The bill authorizes DOE to partner with the National Science Foundation, so that its researchers can participate in NSF's groundbreaking Innovation Corps program, which matches grant recipients with entrepreneurs to help get their ideas out of the lab and into the marketplace.

Lastly, the bill includes important reporting and accountability measures, so that we will be able to evaluate the effectiveness of each of these new tools and determine any additional steps that we should be taking down the road.

DOE's national laboratories have been the birthplace of some of our most revolutionary technologies. When this research is harnessed by entrepreneurs and business leaders, start-ups with only one or two employees can grow into companies that create hundreds of quality jobs.

We want to make sure that our national labs, our universities, and all federally-funded institutions and initiatives remain an important foundation of our knowledge-based economy.

That is why I was proud to cosponsor this bipartisan legislation, to give scientists and researchers in both the public and private sectors the tools and the freedom that they need to unlock a new wave of great discoveries.

I would like to close by noting that this is the kind of bipartisan, cooperative work Congress needs to do if we are going to bolster our global competitiveness. Countries around the world are working to recruit and develop the next generation of innovators. If we are going to have any chance of keeping up, we absolutely have to make research and development a top priority.

I am hopeful that we can renew the bipartisan spirit and commitment to making sure tomorrow's cutting-edge technology is developed here, not someplace else.

I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. KILMER. Once again, I would like to thank Mr. Hultgren, Chairman Smith, and Ranking Member Johnson.

Having no further requests for time, I yield back the balance of my time.


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