Rosemarie Truman brings a long record in nurturing technology startups based on federally funded technology is the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s new director of innovation impact.
She joined the Department of Energy laboratory in August, coming from the Center for Advancing Innovation, a Bethesda, Md., nonprofit she founded and led until recently. The company helped nurture businesses to commercialize technology developed within the National Institutes of Health and NASA.
Truman said she’s eager to build on PNNL’s work to commercialize the “awesome inventions” emerging from the Richland laboratory.
“I’d love to see a whole bunch of companies right around the PNNL campus,” she said. “There is an enormous untapped entrepreneurial spirit here.”
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Truman’s résumé includes business development roles at some of America’s best known companies. She started her career as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs and later worked at Marsh & McLennan, IBM and Oracle, among others. She earned an undergraduate degree from Smith College and studied software engineering at Oxford University.
In her most recent role at the Center for Advancing Innovation, she turned entrepreneur.
CAI, as it is known, pioneered a business accelerator that created companies by pairing federally sponsored technology developed at NIH and NASA with teams of scientists, engineers, successful entrepreneurs, attorneys and other business experts.
It put the teams through intensive boot camps and linked the most promising companies with investors. The results: 33 startups launched, 21 partnerships nurtured and recognition by the White House
Truman had a history of commercializing technology in corporate America, but starting her own company was an eye opener.
“When you’re an entrepreneur, you watch every penny and you work your buns off,” she said. And, critically, newly established concerns lack something their corporate peers don’t.
“The number one thing you have to create is your culture and your brand,” she said, calling the CAI experience something she would never regret.
At PNNL, she will build on existing pilot projects to continue the laboratory’s tradition of licensing technology with companies and incubating startups.
PNNL has signed 846 technology licenses in its history, and has created or enabled 179 companies that currently employ more than 1,500. It has been recognized by the Federal Laboratory Consortium for its technology transfer program.
Truman said the lab and the Tri-Cities have a strong foundation to support entrepreneurial startups. The technology developed at PNNL is equal to that coming out of NIH and NASA.
“Once you have the team and the invention together, you can create many connections,” she said.