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Turning Innovation Into Enterprise


TechConnect Visits NETL in Morgantown on April 17th

Several members of TechConnectWV’s Board of Directors visited the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) in Morgantown on April 17 to learn more about the lab’s energy technologies and discuss future collaborations.

In addition to an overview of NETL, which has locations in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Oregon, the group learned more about the Department of Energy’s Technology Commercialization Fund and toured eight specific labs at the Morgantown site.

NETL is the nation’s only national laboratory devoted to enabling & accelerating fossil energy technology discovery, development, & deployment.

“Several of TechConnect’s member organizations are working with entrepreneurs and startup companies in the energy sector, and we’re interested in exploring collaborations with NETL to advance these technology developments,” said Anne Barth, executive director of TechConnect.

“Knowing more about NETL’s core competencies and technology thrusts helps our organizations assist startups that are working to bring new products and technologies to market,” she added.

NETL can help identify subject matter experts across multiple technology areas, and the lab has technologies that are available for licensing, which offer opportunities for business formation and startup.

“Our state and region is fortunate to have NETL, a top rank research institution, right in our back yard. The opportunity for capital investment in commercial projects in NETL’s domain can be transformative in terms of job creation and regional economic development,” said Greg Henthorn, Executive Vice President and Co-Founder of Flat Rock Energy, and member of TechConnect.

Last November, Dr. Brian Anderson joined NETL as director after heading up West Virginia University’s Energy Institute.  With new leadership in place at NETL, Barth said the time is right to engage with the lab and explore ways to work together on potential projects.

“We welcome new opportunities to collaborate with TechConnectWV,” said Anderson. “Our organizations share common goals for benefiting the region and the nation through technology development, and together we can make an even bigger impact.”

As an example, Barth noted that one of TechConnect’s member organizations is working with a startup company that recently received a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant through the Department of Energy to develop a coal core composite ceramic that has many potential applications, including durable, lightweight, fire-resistant roofing tiles.

Encouraging more firms to apply for the SBIR program is a goal of TechConnect, Barth said.

“NETL is a tremendous resource for the nation in terms of leading and facilitating technology breakthroughs, and we want to partner with the lab to help grow West Virginia’s economy,” Barth said.