An Initial Look at Federal Offices of Research and Technology Applications
Nicole K. Gingrich, Michael J. Hall, Isaac Patterson
In Sciencethe Endless Frontier, Vannevar Bush wrote that reaping the potential benefits of science conducted at federal laboratories requires the discoveries made in the labs be transferred to society. In federal laboratories, Offices of Research and Technology Applications (ORTAs) are tasked with transferring lab-developed technologies to the market, facilitating societys reaping of the benefits provided by scientific investments. In fiscal year 2016, the Technology Partnerships Office of the National Institute of Standards and Technology conducted a first-of-its-kind survey of the ORTAs of more than fifty federal laboratories to obtain information on their organization and operation. We present descriptive analyses of the responses to this survey in two topical areas: organizational characteristics and technology transfer characteristics. We disaggregate the data across the dimension of budget size find similarities and differences across the budget categories. Among the relationships we observe, we find that ORTAs with larger technology transfer budgets report higher frequencies of conducting internal technology transfer activities, such as patent prosecution and market analysis. Additionally, we provide context to the data by overviewing the relevant research on ORTAs at universities and present potential inferences that may be drawn from that body of research and applied to the data on ORTAs at federal laboratories.