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NIST to Help Speed Technology Transfer from Federal Labs

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will play a significant role in helping speed the transfer of federal research and development from the laboratory to the marketplace, as part of a plan laid out in a Presidential Memorandum issued on Oct. 28, 2011. The goal is to help U.S. businesses create jobs and strengthen their competitiveness in a global economy.

The Presidential Memorandum caps an extensive effort by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and widely supported by the Department of Commerce and other agencies, to accelerate innovation. This effort has already led to advances to encourage entrepreneurship from the private sector and to marshal the investment in federal laboratory research to help America innovate and compete.

"NIST is in a good position to lead these efforts because we are a federal lab ourselves, but also because of our experience coordinating technology transfer efforts and in establishing metrics to evaluate their effectiveness," said Phillip Singerman, NIST's Associate Director for Innovation and Industry Services

Through its existing role coordinating the Interagency Workgroup on Technology Transfer, NIST will help lead agencies with federal laboratories to develop plans that establish performance goals to increase the number and pace of effective technology transfer and commercialization activities in partnership with nonfederal organizations. The group also will be responsible for recommending opportunities to improve technology transfer from federal labs and for refining how tech transfer is defined, to better capture data on all of the ways it happens.

NIST will coordinate development and analysis of appropriate metrics and will continue to report and analyze results through its annual report on technology transfer, which covers 11 federal agencies. "We plan to improve and expand the collection of metrics to better measure the commercial impact of federal technology transfer," said Singerman.

Singerman points to examples of NIST's own success in tech transfer as supporting the decision to have the organization lead this important effort. For example, in 2010 NIST licensed a technology called RoboCrane, which is now being used to build a new confinement structure at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Another NIST research project, this one in refrigeration technology, has enabled the emergence of patented cryosurgical instruments for treating heart arrhythmias and uterine conditions, and generated millions of dollars in revenue for the licensee.

NIST has also helped architects, engineers and the construction industry select environmentally preferred and cost-effective products through free downloadable software for analysis and selection of building materials. Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability (BEES) includes performance data across a wide range of applications for more than 230 products, and it won the 2010 GreenGov Presidential Award from the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

The full text of the White House press release on the Presidential Memorandum can be read online.

See the most recent "Federal Laboratory Technology Transfer Summary Reports" online. Read more about RoboCrane in "NIST Technology Called Upon to Clean Up Chernobyl Disaster Site." Learn more about 2010 GreenGov Presidential Award winner.

Released November 8, 2011, Updated January 25, 2023