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  • Washington Highlights

    NIST Seeks Public Feedback on Federal Technology Transfer Principles and Practices, Announces Four Public Forums

    Stephen Heinig, Director, Science Policy
    Anne Berry, Lead Specialist, Implementation Research & Policy

    The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) May 1 published a Request for Information (RFI) seeking the research community and the public’s input on federal technology transfer policies and practices.

    “Tech transfer” refers to the ways by which discoveries from federally-supported research at national labs, as well as universities and research organizations, are transferred into commercial or practical applications, such as new medicines. Among the questions posed in the RFI, NIST asks, “What are the core Federal technology transfer principles and practices that should be protected, and those which should be adapted or changed?”

    NIST April 19 held a symposium highlighting the future of American innovation and the critical role that federally-funded research and development and intellectual property has in achieving lab-to-market results. NIST Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and Director Walter G. Copan, PhD, presented on the Return on Investment (ROI) Initiative in which NIST will work with partners, including the private sector, to identify improvements in technology transfer practices.

    As a leading technology agency under the Department of Commerce, NIST is spearheading the review of all federal tech transfer practices on behalf of the President’s Management Agenda, which seeks to accelerate the ways in which the public benefits from federal investments in research. Tech transfer policies relating to biomedical research funded through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other health agencies will be included in this review.

    At the symposium, Dr. Copan highlighted the forthcoming release of the RFI, which subsequently was published in the May 1 Federal Register. It states, “NIST requests information from the public regarding the current state of Federal technology transfer and the public’s ability to engage with Federal laboratories and access federally funded R&D through collaborations, licensing, and other mechanisms.” Responses to the RFI are due by July 30.

    Additionally, NIST will hold four public meetings and a webcast about the initiative. Details are available on the Return on Investment Public Forums webpage.