Transferring Technology

NASA Ames has developed a substantial intellectual property portfolio in these areas. Some of the technologies have been licensed to private companies. For example, the use of carbon nanotubes in computer chip cooling and associated processing techniques have been licensed to a start-up company in the Bay Area. Similar efforts are ongoing for licensing biosensors, genechips, and chemical sensors. Another avenue of tech transfer has been companies founded by employees of the NASA Ames Center for Nanotechnology.

NASA Ames Office of Technology Partnerships routinely organizes one-day workshops to showcase the Ames-developed technologies. To meet entrepreneurs and members of the industrial community, this office also participates in such workshops organized by other NASA centers and regional tech transfer centers, as well as other conferences and symposia.

In addition to working on tech transfer to industry, this office facilitates joint research between NASA Ames and interested companies through an arrangement called the Space Act Agreement (SAA). The SAA is a type of cooperative research and development agreement that enables the two parties to jointly develop a process or product, with each contributing to certain aspects of the development. The rights of each party for commercialization and marketing are clearly spelled out in the SAA document as negotiated by the two parties. NASA Ames currently has several SAAs in place with a number of industrial partners.

Technology transfer in Department of Defense labs takes place in a variety of ways. The primary focus of DoD labs is not to develop commercial products but to develop solutions to the problems of military services such as the Army, Navy, and so on. These services communicate problems, issues, and limitations they experience in the conduct of their operations, and priorities are developed by the DoD labs to resolve these problems. Solutions are proposed by the labs through written and oral proposals to meet specific needs, with funding provided (when available) to those of the highest priority.

For additional research and scientific validation, labs may also partner with an outside company or university through a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA). This can leverage both the funding and the expertise of the laboratory to greater meet the needs of the military services. When a project has reached this point and is close to developing a prototype, funding may be obtained from DoD sources outside the lab, such as a branch's Scientific Office of Research or funding from an applied program (for example, the F-22 aircraft or global positioning satellites). Defense labs rarely directly spin out commercial companies, but they have extensive commercialization and licensing programs similar to those of other agencies.

DOE's Nanoscale Science Research Centers convene regular meetings to provide a forum for exchange of ideas among researchers from many institutions, as well as a means to educate users on the capabilities that exist and are being developed at these unique national facilities. The facilities are available for use on a peer-reviewed basis. Time, materials, and technical assistance are provided free of charge for researchers who are willing to publish the results of their work in the open literature, and on a cost-recovery basis when used for proprietary purposes.

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