Research and development serves as the foundation for innovation across the United States, and the most recent federal budget reflects the importance of these efforts with a historical increase in R&D spending. However, as the speed of technological advancement increases and global competition puts pressure on the country, the R&D model must evolve.
Executive Mosaic spoke with Lou Von Thaer, president and CEO of Battelle, the largest independent, non-profit R&D organization in the world, to better understand where our R&D priorities lie, how we can change the innovation paradigm and what we can expect to see in the future as R&D investments mature.
According to Von Thaer, a 2023 Wash100 Award winner, the country’s R&D efforts are well-positioned and well-funded.
You can vote for Lou Von Thaer as your favorite GovCon executive in this year’s popular vote competition! Visit Wash100.com to cast your vote.
“We have alignment between the Senate, the funding agencies and the White House, and I think that’s put us in a good place. The budgets are strong today,” he said in a new video interview.
This period of budgetary growth and financial prosperity has resulted in significant growth for Battelle. Under Von Thaer’s leadership for the past five years, the company’s revenue has grown from $5 billion per year to over $11 billion in 2022 — and Von Thaer noted that this growth is organic, without mergers and acquisitions.
One of Battelle’s main focus areas is environmental cleanup and carbon reduction — an area in which Von Thaer is seeing increased need, new innovation opportunities and more attention from the federal government in recent years.
In the past decade, the proliferation of forever chemicals or PFAS — short for per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances — has caused considerable damage to the environment. But the molecule’s extremely small size and strong bond makes the chemical incredibly difficult to track and eliminate.
In response, Battelle has created a new technology and stood up a new company, Revive Environmental, to start addressing PFAS cleanup in the marketplace. Battelle’s spin off of a new company with a unique technology represents one of three avenues the company typically pursues with R&D projects as they mature.
To find out more about Battelle’s R&D model and how the company is shifting the traditional structure, watch Lou Von Thaer’s full video interview here. Don’t forget to subscribe to Executive Mosaic’s YouTube channel to stay up to date with GovCon interviews.