Cheatham to Lead Technology Deployment and Outreach at PNNL

Will emphasize industrial partnerships that lead to expanded impact of PNNL's science and technology


Lee Cheatham has been named director of technology deployment and outreach at the U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Cheatham — the long-time executive director of the Washington Technology Center — was most recently at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, N.Y., where he launched and led its Office of Strategic Partnerships in an effort to expand and diversify the national laboratory's research portfolio. Cheatham also oversaw Brookhaven's technology commercialization and economic development functions.

At PNNL, Cheatham will partner with the business community to commercialize intellectual property created by PNNL's scientists and engineers. He will also lead PNNL's economic development support activities and manage affiliations with state, regional and national technology-based business associations. As part of this role, Cheatham will create new startup and entrepreneurship initiatives and capabilities that are designed to boost job creation, create new markets for ideas and products, and maximize the impact of valuable federal investments.

"To move more technologies into the marketplace, we need partners who further develop and commercialize these innovations and ultimately create jobs," said Malin Young, PNNL's deputy director for science and technology. "Lee has an extensive track record of leadership in advancing science, technology and commercialization in the DOE laboratory system, academia and private industry. In each role, he has built successful public-private partnerships to expand the economic impact of innovation."

Cheatham spent the first 17 years of his professional career at PNNL where he worked as a computer sciences researcher and manager, addressing issues as diverse as information systems for the military, environmental management and emergency planning, energy systems and robotics. From 1992-95, while at PNNL, he led the largest-ever (at that time) DOE-industry cooperative research project, one focused on using technology to increase the competitiveness of the U.S. textile and apparel industry.

From 1998 to 2010, Cheatham served as the executive director of the Washington Technology Center in Seattle, an organization charted by the State of Washington to accelerate the growth and expand the economic impact of small and medium-sized businesses in the state through partnerships with Washington's universities and research institutions.

From 2010 to 2013, Cheatham served as the chief operating officer and general manager of commercialization for the 500-person Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University in Tempe.

Cheatham earned a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Oregon State University in Corvallis, a master's degree in electrical engineering from Washington State University in Pullman, and a doctorate in electrical engineering from Carnegie- Mellon University in Pittsburgh. He currently serves on the National Science Foundation's Business and Operations Advisory Committee.

"PNNL is well known among the DOE laboratories for its industry partnerships that move technologies into the marketplace, and I am excited to contribute to the Laboratory's efforts in achieving even greater economic impact," said Cheatham. He starts at PNNL on September 5.

PNNL: A History of Technology Deployment and Commercialization

In its history, PNNL — through its Technology Deployment and Outreach and predecessor offices — has:

  • Improved millions of lives through the commercialization of technologies for digital recording, a more resilient power grid, threat awareness and detection, and cancer treatment, to name a few;
  • Signed 828 licenses with companies and organizations covering a multitude of technologies and software innovations;
  • Created or enabled 179 companies based on PNNL technologies and employees, which together currently employ more than 3,100 people;
  • Performed 1,315 technology assistance projects for companies nationwide;
  • Won 85 Excellence in Technology Transfer awards — more than any other national laboratory — from the Federal Laboratory Consortium, and 100 R&D 100 Awards for innovation; and
  • Increased small business access to national laboratory expertise and technology through leadership in the Tri-Cities Research District and national programs such as DOE's Small Business Vouchers Pilot.

Interdisciplinary teams at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory address many of America's most pressing issues in energy, the environment and national security through advances in basic and applied science. Founded in 1965, PNNL employs 4,400 staff and has an annual budget of nearly $1 billion. It is managed and operated by Battelle for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science. As the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, the Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information on PNNL, visit the PNNL News Center, or follow PNNL on Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.