Walter Copan Selected To Head National Institute Of Standards And Technology
Friday, December 15, 2017
Scientist's long career in business development, tech transfer, and public-private collaboration led to top government post.
By Meredith Holmes
Walter Copan, Ph.D, a chemist who served LES (U.S.A. & Canada) as a Trustee and as Regional Vice-President, was confirmed by Congress on October 5 as Undersecretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and Director for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Copan will oversee and set direction for the agency, which promotes U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards, and technology.
An expert in cybersecurity, intellectual property, and tech transfer, Dr. Copan's career spans the public and private sector and includes experience in industry, non-profits, federal labs, and tech start-ups. His top priority at NIST will be implementing the Cybersecurity Framework to improve network security in federal agencies, industry, and small business.
At his nomination hearing on September 27, Copan declared, "I am first and foremost a scientist. I believe in the power of basic research, its development and commercialization—and of standards to drive economic growth and improve our standards of living. I am also a businessman, an entrepreneur, investor, and an intellectual property and technology transfer professional. I am committed to NIST, and to America's treasure—our federal research enterprise."
A native of New York, Walter Copan, grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. He completed a dual undergraduate degree in music and chemistry at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) in Cleveland, worked at the Lubrizol Corporation (now part of Berkshire Hathaway Group), then returned to CWRU to earn a Ph.D. in physical chemistry in 1982. He worked at Lubrizol for 28 years in a variety of leadership positions. As Lubrizol's Managing Director for Technology Transfer and Licensing, Dr. Copan was responsible for corporate venturing and open innovation, technology strategy, research and development in the U.S. and U.K., intellectual assets, and technology licensing. \
In all of his high-profile positions, one of Dr. Copan's missions has been to forge productive relationships between government and industry. As Principal Licensing Executive, Technology Transfer at the Department of Energy's (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Copan spearheaded more effective and flexible commercialization of energy-related technologies. At DOE'S Brookhaven National Laboratory, he led creation of the Small Business Innovation Research – Technology Transfer program and started a new DOE tech transfer mechanism, "Agreements for Commercializing Technology," which has been praised for improving intellectual property agreements between businesses and the DOE.
Copan was Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at Clean Diesel Technologies, Inc., an international technology and licensing firm. Most recently, he was President and CEO of IP Engineering Group Corporation, in Colorado, where he oversaw intellectual property strategy and technology commercialization. In addition to participating in LES, Dr. Copan has served on the boards of many organizations and is a member of the National Advisory Council, Federal Laboratory Consortium, an interagency technology transfer group.
Honored to be nominated and selected to serve at the helm of NIST, Dr. Copan said "I believe that, in taking on this position, I will be able to make a positive difference for the United States, our economy, and for science."