The Technology Partnerships Office (TPO) has many goals to accomplish at NIST, with the primary vision being to facilitate the best possible outcome for each NIST innovation and to provide dynamic interagency leadership for technology transfer policy and analysis. TPO serves as a steward of the overall federal technology transfer network. By being a liaison between the NIST labs and external communities, from businesses to academia, TPO is able to bridge the lines of communication between parties to get viable technologies one step closer to commercialization.
TPO can achieve this vision through a variety of tools designed to assist in getting lab-created innovations with viable market potential to the right partners for external collaboration. Some of these tools include agreements like cooperative research and development agreements (CRADAs) and material transfer agreements (MTAs). CRADAs allow for an outside party, or parties, to work together with federal researchers on a project, and MTAs allow for the transfer of needed materials for the associated research. These technology transfer tools help initiate the melding of the public and private sector, which is a necessary step in scaling up the production of needed products for society.
Throughout the long research hours and collaborative efforts, inventions are eventually discovered in the NIST labs. These inventions can be any process, machine or composition of material that is novel, non-obvious, and useful. Once discovered, a patent application can be filed. After a patent is received for an invention, it can then be licensed.
Once it is needed, TPO prepares, negotiates, and manages licenses for inventions available from NIST. NIST may grant licenses for commercial purposes and may do this exclusively or non-exclusively for a specific field of use. These licenses are the backbone of commercialization, providing the legal pathway to get federal technologies to market. Any party can reach out to tpo [at] nist.gov for further inquiries regarding technology transfer tools.