Technology Transfer of Federally Funded R&D: Perspectives from a Forum

The federal government attempts to stimulate technological innovation by allowing performers of federally funded research to license inventions created with federal funds to commercial firms. The process that leads to commercialization of these inventions is called technology transfer. By better understanding technology transfer, the government can increase the economic and societal benefits from its investment in research and development (R & D). The President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology asked RAND to host a one-day forum on technology transfer developed with federal R & D funding. Forum participants offered their perspectives on issues and best practices related to technology transfer. Among their observations were the following: Federal policies governing technology transfer are working reasonably well and do not require drastic revision. Technology transfer involves a steep learning curve for performers of federally funded R & D. Implementation of technology transfer should be tailored to specific circumstances-processes that work for one industry or institution may not apply to another. Development of education and training tools on technology transfer would be beneficial. Further research is required to develop and improve technology transfer metrics, especially those that measure benefits to the end user.

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