The War on Terror, Now in Stores
(Business 2.0) -- How did a formula the U.S. Army sprays on its hazmat suits to help fight biological attack turn into a product that helps homeowners fight mold? Sheer luck, says Mark Goldstein, CEO of Scott's Liquid Gold, a half-century-old, $24 million company better known for furniture polish and anti-wrinkle cream. When the Department of Energy's Sandia National Laboratories discovered that its anti-anthrax spray also killed mold, it went looking for a private-sector partner. Goldstein learned about the lab's desire to commercialize the product from an investment banker friend; he jumped at the chance, and Scott's Mold Control 500 hit store shelves this summer at a price of less than $30 a bottle. (Professional mold removal can cost thousands of dollars.) The active formula, still a closely guarded military secret, comes premixed from Sandia.
Scott's is one of a growing number of companies to benefit from the latest war-on-terror R&D. Since 9/11, labs like Sandia have hefty budgets but are required, according to technology transfer laws passed by Congress, to commercialize as many discoveries as possible. The DOE's 21 labs made $27 million from commercial licenses in 2005, up from $5 million a decade ago. "Much of our effort is focused on partnerships with industry," says Craig Tyner, Sandia's licensing manager.
SPOILS OF WAR
These products are also making the leap from the military to consumers.
What: Mineral-based first aid used by the military to stop heavy bleeding is now sold to firefighters and hikers.
What: Color night-vision goggles inspired software that adjusts screens for color-blind computer users.
Tactical Iraqi System
Company: Tactical Language Trainingclick here.