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10/31/2011
02:19 PM
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Push Tech To Private Market Faster, Fed Agencies Told

White House orders agencies to transfer technology and funds to the private market more quickly, hoping to fuel a new group of startups.

Obama's Tech Tools
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Slideshow: Obama's TechTools
The White House aims to hasten how federal technology research reaches the commercial market as part of a presidential directive aimed at creating more jobs and increasing U.S. competitiveness abroad.

President Obama also called for the launch of a website for small businesses to research how they can work with the federal government to increase exports in a directive released Friday.

The federal government invests about $147 billion a year in research and development, and releases technology into the public and private sector every year through its technology transfer program.

It also provides research grants to fund technology startups, with companies such as Qualcomm and Symantec developing as a result of these funds.

[ The feds are using technology as well as transfering it. Read Feds Use Internet To Improve Customer Service. ]

Accelerating the transfer of technology and funds into the market should help startups get off the ground faster while creating new technologies, according to the administration.

To do this, the directive gives agencies more flexibility to work with industry and businesses.

It also directs them to more quickly and easily develop private-public research partnerships, small-business research and development grants, and collaborations between universities and startups. This should make it 50% faster for grants to reach startups, according to the administration.

Agencies also must develop a five-year plan with goals and metrics to keep track of how many patents each lab is generating.

Eleven government agencies currently have active research laboratories that transfer technology to both the public and private sector: the Department of Agriculture (USDA), Department of Commerce, Department of Defense (DOD), Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of the Interior, Department of Transportation, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and NASA.

A recent federal report on the technology transfer program found that the number of inventions coming out of federal labs had slowed over the past five years, but agencies had increased their number of patents and patent applications in the same time frame.

The administration also will launch a new online resource within 90 days called BusinessUSA as part of Obama's directive.

The website will provide a single place for businesses--particularly smaller ones--to find information on federal programs and services that will help them begin or increase exporting, according to the directive. It also will help them connect with each other and the right federal agencies directly through the website, according to the administration.

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