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The FLEX Program is Tech Transfer Training in Action

Technology transfer is not a theoretical exercise. It is a real-world topic, dealing with the application of federal scientific and engineering research to real-world problems in real-world conditions. The challenges involved in bringing the products of that federal research to the marketplace are numerous and complex. 

The Federal Laboratory Consortium (FLC) has developed the Federal Lab Education Accelerator program, popularly known as FLEX, to introduce post-graduate business school students to the complexities and challenges inherent in making tech transfer happen. 

The FLEX program, which is an initiative of the FLC’s Mid-Atlantic Region, is a creative approach to the ins and outs of tech transfer. Graduate students at the participating business schools look over examples of patented federal research in federal agency portfolios, pick the most appealing technologies, and work with faculty tech transfer managers to assess the technology.

Just a few months ago, teams of students from the Arizona State University (ASU) began participating in the FLEX program as part of their coursework. Two National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) inventions especially piqued their interest and enthusiasm.

The NIST patents being studied are the Wireless Wearable System to Monitor Levels of Fluids in the Lungs, and the Methodology for Detecting Face Morphing Using One-to-Many Face Recognition Algorithms.

The ASU FLEX students have been analyzing the shared characteristics and needs of potential consumers of these NIST technologies. They have also been exploring the potential marketing demand regarding addressable or total demand, the geographic and specialized limitations of the total demand, and the size of the likely markets for the technologies.

Marketing strategies are being examined, potential competitive factors are being scrutinized, revenue projections are being considered, and the FLEX program participants are contemplating scenarios for future partners in commercialization.

Panels of FLEX students have asked the NIST inventors in-depth questions so that the answers can shape the marketing projections and plans. 

The FLEX program is a collaboration without obligations between the federal research laboratories and academic institutions. It is a voluntary relationship, with no payments, presumption of exclusivity, or underlying obligations between the federal labs and the participating colleges and universities.

The FLEX program’s ongoing exploration of the business potential of the two NIST technologies is dynamic and stimulating, and future articles will keep you informed of the progress of this collaboration.

If your college or university’s graduate business program would be interested in taking advantage of the resources and opportunities afforded by the FLEX program, please let us know at TPO [at] NIST.GOV (TPO[at]NIST[dot]GOV), and we will put you in touch with people who can discuss the program with you.

Released October 10, 2023