Ames Lab accelerates commercialization of CMI technologies through Innovation Partnerships Program

Ames Laboratory is using its public-private partnership strategy to tackle a perennial R&D challenge— the often long and twisting road to deploying a technology commercially.

Ames Laboratory is partnering with Decision Frameworks, a Houston-based company specializing in Decision Quality enablement, to enhance navigation of the commercialization process for the Critical Materials Institute (CMI), a U.S. Department of Energy Innovation Hub overseen by Ames Laboratory.  Ames Lab PACT commercialization

CMI’s mission is to address supply chain shortages in rare-earth and other materials critical to domestic manufacturing. Since its inception in 2013, the CMI team of national laboratories, universities, and industry partners have racked up an impressive list of achievements, including 17 patents, 10 licensed technologies, and four R&D100 awards.

The secret to that rapid progress relies on a strategy that is able to prioritize research that is of most use to targeted industries, but also flexible enough to change as markets do. But according to Julienne Krennrich, the Director of the Innovation Partnerships Program at Ames Laboratory, it has resulted in a wealth of technologies in search of licensing.

“It’s an enviable position to be in for any research organization,” said Krennrich, pointing out the more than 120 patent disclosures the hub has filed since its beginning. “But the question then becomes how we best promote our most promising technologies and steer them in the right direction for commercialization.”

The partnership with Decision Frameworks includes a review of the entire portfolio of CMI technologies, selection of a handful to “frame,” creation of market-informed technology maturation “road maps” and development plans, and training to enable inventors and technology transfer professionals the ability to apply the Decision Quality framework to their research and technology portfolios.

“Successful research at the Critical Materials Institute is not the endpoint,” said CMI Director Tom Lograsso. “Successful technology deployment is the endpoint, and through this partnership, we will strengthen our ability to show industry the true market potential of our innovations.”

Funding for the partnership was provided by Practices to Accelerate the Commercialization of Technology (PACT) by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Technology Transitions. The Office of Technology Transitions (OTT) advances the economic, energy, and national security interests of the United States by expanding the commercial impact of the Department of Energy’s research and development portfolio. OTT streamlines access to information and to DOE’s National Labs and facilities — fostering partnerships that guide innovations from the lab into the marketplace.

The Critical Materials Institute is a Department of Energy Innovation Hub led by the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory and supported by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office, which supports early-stage applied research to advance innovation in U.S. manufacturing and promote American economic growth and energy security. CMI seeks ways to eliminate and reduce reliance on rare-earth metals and other materials critical to the success of clean energy technologies.

Ames Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science National Laboratory operated by Iowa State University. Ames Laboratory creates innovative materials, technologies and energy solutions. We use our expertise, unique capabilities and interdisciplinary collaborations to solve global problems.

Ames Laboratory is supported by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy. The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit


Julienne Krennrich, Innovation Partnerships Program Director, 515-294-1202

Laura Millsaps, Ames Laboratory Communications, 515-294-3474