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New Study Examines Methods for Technology Transfer from Government Labs to Industry

From NIST Tech Beat: July 6, 2011

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Contact: Gail Porter

A new report* sponsored by the U.S. Commerce Department (DOC)—the results of the first independent study of its kind in almost 10 years—describes both barriers and effective strategies for the transfer of technology developed in federal laboratories to industry for commercialization.

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The study found that the distinctive missions of federal laboratories, management strategies and resources, statutory requirements and incentives for researchers were key factors determining an agency's particular approach to commercialization of federal laboratory results.

Based on a literature review and interviews with technology transfer experts at 26 different federal research laboratories as well as 33 additional organizations, the study was released on June 14, 2011, at a meeting of the department's National Advisory Committee on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, held at Howard University.

The IDA Science and Technology Policy Institute conducted the research, with funding from the Economic Development Administration (EDA), in conjunction with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Agencies interviewed as part of the study also suggested a range of strategies for increasing the speed and extent of dissemination of federal technologies. Strategies included streamlining licensing; increasing cash, royalties, awards or other incentives that reward researchers for excellent technology transfer efforts; and raising the visibility of available technologies through showcase events, intellectual property databases, and networking at conferences and workshops.

The full report is available from the EDA's Office of Innovation & Entrepreneurship at http://www.eda.gov/commrfi. For more details, see the NIST June 30, 2011, news announcement, “Study Highlights Diversity in Agency Technology Transfer Approaches” at www.nist.gov/director/tech-transfer-063011.cfm.

*M.E. Hughes, S.V. Howieson, G. Walejko, N. Gupta, S. Jonas, A.T. Brenner, D. Holmes, E. Shyu, S. Shipp. Technology Transfer and Commercialization Landscape of the Federal Laboratories. IDA Science and Technology Policy Institute, 174 pp. Published June 2011.