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ORNL’s Bridging the Gap plans announced

Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s second annual Bridging the Gap (BTG) technology and commercialization event is set for March 7 and 8 at the lab with an ever evolving format.

“We’re trying to focus it more and more on specific opportunities (that) are ready to be commercialized in the marketplace,” said Tom Rogers, ORNL’s Director of Industrial and Economic Development Partnerships.

Rogers organized last year’s inaugural BTG and either led or played a major role in planning the Global Venture Challenge (GVC), the predecessor event to BTG that ran for three years. The four GVC or BTG events focused on ways to get ORNL technologies to the market. GVC was a student business competition around technologies from ORNL or the student team’s institutions, while BTG is focused on ORNL inventions.

“The technologies (that will be presented in March) are based on research conducted at ORNL that now show significant commercial promise,” Rogers said.

While the technologies that will be presented will be announced later, Rogers said that they will be focused in one of three areas – data analytics, advanced materials and clean technology. The first two sectors will be presented on March 7, and the latter topic will be addressed on March 8.

Rogers said that an overview of each sector will be presented followed by 15-minute each presentations on three promising technologies in the sector.

“We also plan to have a panel comprised of businesses currently doing business with ORNL that will share with the audience their experiences and lessons learned,” he said. This will be a breakfast event on March 8.

Rogers is particularly proud of the way the annual event has evolved from the inaugural GVC to the BTG planned for March. He said that many of the technologies showcased in the past were inventions that were selected by ORNL’s Partnerships Directorate where he is based.

“At least one-half of the technologies being showcased this year came from our researchers asking for the opportunity rather than us asking them,” he said. Rogers attributes this change to “an emerging entrepreneurial culture at ORNL that is being strongly encouraged by lab leadership.”

Rogers said GVC is targeted at entrepreneurs, investors and industry experts – “anyone who could potentially play a role in moving these promising technologies into the commercial marketplace.”

The event begins at 1 p.m. March 7 with a keynote address, presentations through the afternoon on data analytics and advanced materials, and a reception and dinner that evening. The event continues from 8 to 11 a.m. on March 8. Registration is required and space is limited. Those interested should go to http://www.ornl.gov/adm/partnerships/events.shtml.

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