The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is undertaking an ambitious plan to assess Federal technology transfer efforts to enable greater “Return on Investment” (ROI) from the Federal Government’s $150 Billion annual investment in research and development (R&D). NIST is uniquely positioned to implement this initiative through our government-wide leadership role within the Department of Commerce, including delegated regulatory authority and responsibility for annual reporting to the President and Congress.
NIST will work in collaboration with the private sector and other partners to identify critically-needed improvements to Federal technology transfer efforts. Our goal is to streamline and accelerate the transfer of technology from Federal Laboratories and federally-funded R&D at universities to promote U.S. economic growth and national security by attracting greater private sector investment to create innovative products and services, and new businesses and industries.
The objectives of the assessment are to identify:
- Core Federal technology transfer principles and practices that should be protected, and those which should be adapted or changed.
- Approaches to improve efficiency and reduce regulatory burdens of technology transfer to attract private sector investment in later-stage R&D, commercialization and advanced manufacturing.
- New partnering models and technology transfer mechanisms with the private sector, academia, other Federal agencies, State and other public-sector entities to support technology development and maturation.
- New approaches that will reduce or remove barriers, and enable accelerated technology transfer, with focus on areas of strategic national importance.
- Better metrics and methods to evaluate the ROI outcomes and impacts arising from Federal R&D investment.
- New approaches to motivate significantly increased technology transfer outcomes from the Federal sector, universities and research organizations.
Request For Information: A Request For Information (RFI) is expected to be published in the Federal Register in late February/early March. Information will be updated here when available.
Public Forums: Three public forums are expected to be held in March/April. Information will be announced in the Federal Register and updated here when available.
Analysis and Recommendations: A white paper will be published summarizing the public comments and recommendations. Information will be updated here when available.
The Interagency Working Group for Technology Transfer (IAWGTT)
The IAWGTT was established in 1987 by Executive Order 12591 (link is external), Section 7, to "convene an interagency task force comprised of the heads of representative agencies and the directors of representative Federal laboratories, or their designees, in order to identify and disseminate creative approaches to technology transfer from Federal laboratories." The responsibilities of coordinating the IAWGTT activities, including the Annual Tech Transfer Report to the President and Congress required by the EO and by 15 U.S.C. 3710(g)(2) (link is external), were delegated to NIST by Department Organization Order (DOO) 30-2A (link is external).
The Interagency Working Group for Bayh-Dole (IAWGBD)
The IAWGBD is a working group of tech transfer professionals responsible for managing extramural research activities, including Bayh-Dole policy and iEdison reporting. In consultation with the National Institutes of Health, which manages the iEdison reporting system for inventions funded by federal agencies, the Department of Commerce holds the responsibility for implementing regulations related to the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980 (15 U.S.C. 202-209 (link is external)). This responsibility was delegated to NIST by Department Organization Order (DOO) 30-2A (link is external).
Laws and Regulation
The Bayh-Dole Act of 1980: Patent Rights in Inventions Made with Federal Assistance, 35 USC 18 §200-§212
The Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980: 15 USC 63 §3701-§3724 (as amended)
Rights to Inventions Made by Nonprofit Organizations and Small Business Firms under Government Grants, Contracts, and Cooperative Agreements, 37 CFR Part 401 (implementation of the Bayh-Dole Act)
Licensing of Government-Owned Inventions, 37 CFR Part 404 (implementation of the Bayh-Dole Act)
Uniform Patent Policy for Rights in Inventions Made by Government Employees, 37 CFR Part 501 (Regulation Pursuant to Executive Order 10096)
Executive Order 12591, Facilitating Access to Science and Technology, April 10, 1987
Federal Technology Transfer Studies
Technology Transfer Research and Evaluation: Implications for Federal Laboratory Practice (2013)
University Technology Transfer Studies
Links and Impacts: The Influence of Public Research on Industrial R&D (2002)
Universities as a Source of Commercial Technology: A Detailed Analysis of University Patenting 1965-1988 (1995)
The growth of patenting and licensing by U.S. universities: an assessment of the effects of the Bayh-Dole act of 1980 (2001)
State of the Field: University Technology Transfer