This is Your License to Innovate: UChicago, Argonne, Fermilab Showcase New Tech

“We have a recipe for the extraordinary – and the opportunities are endless,” said Juan de Pablo, Executive Vice President for Science, Innovation, National Laboratories, and Global Initiatives at the University of Chicago, kicking off the inaugural License to Innovate showcase.

The event combined the deep intellectual property (IP) strengths of three institutions: the University of Chicago and two U.S. Department of Energy national laboratories, Argonne National Laboratory and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.

The showcase specifically highlighted opportunities for advanced materials and processes in separation technologies, which are critical across industry verticals, such as hydrogen, biofuels, pharmaceuticals, and water. One of the significant challenges is the high cost and energy intensity of product separations, purification, and recovery. Advances in separation technologies are thus needed to reduce energy use, harmful emissions, and overall process costs.

Some examples of innovative technologies developed include novel strategies for lithium extraction, supersonic beam diffraction for isotopic separations, and functionalized coatings of filtration membranes.

>> View the online event booklet for more information and summaries of the technologies presented.

The keynote from de Pablo touched on the capabilities and key considerations for working with the University and National Labs and was followed by a panel discussion.

“The panel covered the need to always consider technical solutions in context of the entire system, whether that be a membrane-based process separation or a company’s position within the value chain,” said the discussion moderator Chris Heckle, director of the Materials Manufacturing Innovation Center at Argonne National Laboratory. “The panel shared their thoughts on the need and barriers for cross-industry collaboration to solve global challenges, and touched on the use of generative AI and how it may impact both the design of next-generation products and processes as well as the workforce.”

Clockwise: Andrea Course, Digital Innovation Program Manager, Shell; Gavin Dillingham, Executive Advisor, Federal Affairs, SLB; Ignasi Palou-Rivera, Executive Director and CTO, RAPID Manufacturing Institute at AIChE – American Institute of Chemical Engineers; and Chris Heckle, Director, Materials Manufacturing Innovation Center, Argonne National Laboratory.

There were six innovation pitches from University of Chicago, Argonne, and Fermilab researchers – with an opportunity for Q&A and additional connections. All the pitches are available to view online.

The University of Chicago pursues the nation’s most important science goals and fosters innovation, technology development, and economic progress through its stewardship of Argonne (through UChicago Argonne, LLC) and Fermilab (through Fermi Research Alliance, LLC) on behalf of the Department of Energy.

Leaders across these institutions in 2018 joined forces to form the UChicago Joint Task Force Initiative (JTFI) with the goal of sharing best practices. The unique initiative helps Argonne and Fermilab achieve mission success by opening channels of frequent communication and collaboration across institutions. It has led to the creation of several committees, strategic initiatives, and training opportunities that provide critical support for the national laboratories. Part of the JTFI, the Technology Transfer Task Force explores operational synergies with Argonne and Fermilab. This task force’s work led to the launch of this technology showcase.


University of Chicago: UChicago’s technology portfolio is managed by the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Learn more by contacting

Argonne National Lab: To learn more about collaborating with Argonne for your science and technology needs, call 800-627-2596 or visit

Fermilab: The mission of the Office of Partnerships and Technology Transfer is to transfer technologies developed at Fermilab to private sector partners. For more information, visit or email

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