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Looking into an Economic Analysis Brief

By Marshall Child

a clip art image of a map with a mark indicating a point on the map
Credit: Pixabay

The Technology Partnerships Office (TPO) at NIST wanted to take an in-depth, analytical look into the geographic distribution of active NIST cooperative research and development agreements (CRADA) and licenses throughout 2019 and so they did that just that when they published the NIST Economic Analysis Brief 13. Dr. Michael Hall and Nicole Gingrich of TPO were the authors behind the paper entitled, “The Geographic Footprint of NIST Cooperative Research and Development Agreements and Licenses: Fiscal Year 2019.” For years, NIST has published an annual, by-the-numbers look at the amount of active CRADAs and licenses for any given fiscal year, but this report wanted to tackle a different aspect of the bigger picture. NIST economic analysis briefs, over the years, have shown these values on a national scale and over the course of a longer duration, but this paper aimed to pinpoint specific states and regions over one full fiscal year. By focusing on specific metrics, such as this, NIST can further the understanding of its potential impact within the community and across the country.

The specific metric and the overall research question analyzed in this paper is, “where are the NIST technology transfer partners located?” By diving into and answering this question, this report can provide stakeholders about potential locations for down-stream economic impact. Even though the analysis doesn’t show where the innovations were created or the location of the CRADAs and licenses, it does indicate the locations of the various partners. This is an important step in the right direction, especially considering the potential positive relationship between technology transfer and proximity.            

So, how did the authors reach their conclusions in this report? They first combined NIST data on invention licenses and CRADAs with Census Bureau data on populations in geographic regions to examine relative intensity of NIST interactions. From there, they plotted the geographic distribution of NIST invention licensees and CRADA partners, and then calculated the per-capita rates of invention licensing and CRADA partnerships at multiple geographic scales.            

Through their analysis, here is what they found:

  • NIST had 388 CRADAs in 34 states and the District of Columbia (DC) and a national rate of 1.17 CRADAs per million population
  • NIST had 69 invention licenses in 20 states and DC and a national rate of 0.21 licenses per million population
  • NIST’s greatest per-capita intensity of CRADAs and invention licenses occurred in the states/zip codes near NIST’s Gaithersburg, Maryland and Boulder, Colorado campuses

They also determined that when it came to regions, the area that falls within the Federal Labs Consortium’s Mid-Atlantic region, of which NIST is a part, had the highest per-capita rate of CRADAs and invention licenses.

TPO will continue to tackle the many variables associated with technology transfer, allowing for deeper analysis on the impacts of NIST’s technology transfer work on the U.S. economy, national security, and the future. These reports will further inform the stakeholders, demonstrate how NIST is fulfilling its mission, and will help TPO better achieve its technology transfer goals.

Released April 20, 2021, Updated May 3, 2021