The wide array of state-of-the-art instrumentation and scientific expertise offered by the Molecular Foundry provides users, including those from industry, with a unique opportunity to further their research capabilities. The Foundry hosts roughly 50 businesses per year ranging from startups to Fortune 500 companies that conduct non-proprietary research at no charge, or proprietary research on a cost-recovery basis. Industrial user projects with the Foundry have resulted in numerous patents, records of invention, R&D100 Awards, and millions of dollars in new funding based on their Foundry projects. In fact, in a 2018 survey, industrial users reported an average of 1.2 pieces of IP, $1.9M funds raised, 3.3 jobs created, and 0.3 peer-reviewed publications associated with their work at the Foundry.
Industrial users add a vital entrepreneurial energy to the Foundry’s research community and directly reflect the dramatic impact that the national laboratory system can have on the nation’s economy. The Foundry works proudly with industry users to advance innovative nanoscience, develop new products and manufacturing methods, and provide economic benefits and jobs.
In addition, industry partnership with the Foundry provided the blueprint that led to the creation of Cyclotron Road, Berkeley Lab’s innovative program that supports early-stage energy technology development and has become the model for innovators to partner with National Labs.
The Foundry is invaluable to small companies doing early stage development. I believe it will be seen as a significant economic engine.Anonymous User
Frequently Asked Questions
What happens to my intellectual property?
- Generally speaking, any intellectual property that you own prior to becoming a Foundry user is yours. Anything that is developed in part or in whole at the Foundry is a shared invention between the user and Berkeley Lab.
- You are required to disclose to the Foundry and Berkeley Lab’s Intellectual Property Office (firstname.lastname@example.org) any inventions resulting in part or in whole from your work at the Foundry. Your inventions and any patent applications filed on them are also subject to overriding obligations to the US Government.
Please carefully review and comply with the Patent Rights article of your User Agreement to maximize the value of, and minimize the risk to, your intellectual property. The sample NPUA and PUA have a representative article (VIII. Patent Rights) for reference.
Contact Sebastian Ainslie with questions.
Can I keep my work proprietary?
- Proprietary projects require execution of a Proprietary User Agreement and the user must pay for the full costs of use of the facility and staff assistance ($325/hr). Contact the User Office for the current rate.
- Most types of user proposals can be designated as proprietary, enabling the user to withhold research results from publication for up to 5 years. Users wishing to do proprietary work at the Foundry should notify the User Office of their intent to submit a proposal. Although the proposed work may be proprietary, sufficient information must be included in the proposal for it to be evaluated for scientific merit, as proprietary proposals undergo the same review process as regular non-proprietary proposals. Learn more about proposals for proprietary work.
How do I apply to become an industry user?
- All users, regardless of affiliation or home institution, go through the same proposal process. Review the proposal guide and submit your proposal through the User Portal.
How soon can I start work?
- There are two proposal calls per year in March and September for Standard proposals. The review process for Standard proposals is typically completed 6 weeks after the submission deadline.
Standard proposals must be activated within a year of approval and can remain active for up to one year from the date of activation. Continuation of the work requires a follow-on proposal.
- Rapid Access proposals can be submitted at any time except during the Standard proposal submission and review periods, and undergo an accelerated review, typically completed in 2-4 weeks.
A successful Rapid Access proposal must be activated within a month of approval and may remain active until the end of the following review cycle for Standard proposals. Continuation of the work past that date requires that the users submit a Follow-on proposal during the call for Standard proposals. Learn more about proposal types.
We need more time on an instrument than allowed by a standard proposal.
- Partner User Proposals are designed to accommodate special partnership projects with broader scope and/or longer time frames than Standard projects, and include user-contributed resources to the User Program. Partner User proposals should be developed with substantial input from Foundry scientists and require a letter of support from the Lead Facility Director. Learn more about partner user proposals.
What are other ways my company can interface with the Foundry outside of the User Program?
- Common methods include Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs), and grants through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. For more information about these and other opportunities, contact Berkeley Lab’s Strategic Partnerships Office.
Have a question that’s not answered here? Contact the Foundry User Office.
What types of companies become Foundry Users?
Below are snapshots of a few of the Foundry’s industry users, listed in no particular order. In addition to these examples, you can read about our various industry users’ work that has been featured in the Foundry’s news and science highlight sections.
Seagate Technology is a world leader in data storage and management solutions and has been a Foundry user since 2014. They collaborate with the Foundry’s world-class experts in nanofabrication to develop technologies that can be used in next-generation ultra-high density data storage.
HighRI Optics, Inc.
HighRI Optics, Inc. is a spin-off company of the “Nanofabrication and Optics” division of aBeam Technologies, it was incorporated in March 2019. Prior to spin-off, Nanofabrication and Optics division of aBeam has been a user of the Molecular Foundry since 2008. aBeam’s work in the Foundry has resulted in 24 peer-reviewed journal publications and 3 patents, and includes the development of the highest resolution calibration tool ever created. This tool utilizes a fabricated pattern with line widths down to 1.5 nanometers and resulted in an R&D100 award in 2015. Additionally, aBeam has developed state-of-the-art nanoimprint lithography processes and high-refractive index printable polymers in the Foundry. aBeam has been acquired recently and HighRI Optics continues to be a user of Molecular Foundry.
X-Therma develops novel, convergent chemical technologies in biopreservation to advance the field of regenerative medicine by making available safe and on-demand organs for transplant, engineered tissues, and cell therapies for the patients in need. They work with Foundry scientists to harness nature-inspired, non-toxic polymers to prevent ice formation during long term storage that solves the long-standing roadblock of cold storage and logistics. The Company is devoted to lead innovation that enables global Regenerative Medicines on-demand to improve modern medicine and save, repair & rejuvenate billions of lives from today to eternity.
The Molecular Foundry has been fundamental to the growth of X-Therma by providing unmatched resources we have been utilizing to lay the groundwork for our advanced organ preservation technology, connections to the Berkeley ecosystem of resources, and phenomenal reputation that is highly regarded by investors and Government funding agencies. Since working at the Foundry in 2015, X-Therma grew from a single employee and has raised $9.1M in Government funding, $2.75M in private equity, and created more than 30 employment opportunities in the Bay Area over the last 6 years.Mark Kline, Co-Founder & CTO, X-Therma Inc
Sepion Technologies is an advanced materials company offering a platform of highly-tunable nanoporous membranes sold as key components to enable next-gen electric vehicle and portable electronics batteries, long-duration grid-storage batteries, and cost-effective water treatment. Sepion was founded when Foundry researchers developed new polymer membranes that extend the life of lithium-sulfur batteries. Researchers have reported energy densities 50% higher than commercial Li-ion technology – an important metric for reducing cost and extending range of future e-mobility products. This technology won an R&D100 award in 2016.
PLANT PV was one of the Foundry’s early industry users, first submitting a proposal in 2008. They focused on the research and development of new materials and device architectures for photovoltaic cells. PLANT PV developed a drop-in replacement, rear tabbing metallization paste that uses less silver and increases the power conversion of silicon solar cells. The company was acquired in early 2019 by a multinational materials company headquartered in Japan.
The Molecular Foundry is a tremendous support for a hard-tech start-up business because of the friendly working environment and access to experts in every field within the Lawrence Berkeley Labs ecosystem. In 2010, PLANT PV made the decision to move to Berkeley in order to work more closely with the Molecular Foundry. Over the next nine years we hired >25 people and spent over $5M developing new materials for solar cells in the East Bay. PLANT PV was able to successfully develop a unique metallization paste that improves the efficiency of silicon solar cells and was acquired by a large Japanese multinational company in 2019.Brian Hardin, Ph.D., (Former) Co-Founder PLANT PV