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NASA To Auction Off Patent Portfolios

Chicago-based ICAP Ocean Tomo will sell three portfolios comprising 12 patents as part of NASA's strategy to transfer innovations to the private sector.

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NASA has teamed with a Chicago-based company to auction off three portfolios of patented technology as part of the agency's interest in transferring technology to the private sector.

The Innovative Partnership Program Office of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center is partnering with ICAP Ocean Tomo LLC of Chicago to sell portfolios comprising 12 patents that can be used for a range of applications, including software development, robotics, artificial intelligence, industrial process control, and wireless sensor networks according to NASA.

ICAP Ocean Tomo will sell the technologies as part of an auction scheduled for Thursday. Detailed information about the technology up for auction can be found on the company's website.

[ Tradtionally, government's own IT technology lags the private sector's. See What Government IT Can Learn From The Private Sector. ]

Of the three patent portfolios, one includes specific technology that discloses "techniques for collective interactions between autonomous entities in a network" to better manage building smoke-detector systems, while the other two are broader and could be applied to software development or autonomous systems, respectively, according to info on ICAP Ocean Tomo's website.

Winning bidders of the patent portfolios will have an opportunity to confer with the inventors of the technologies to help them adapt them for their particular needs, according to NASA. The agency also is open to more-formal agreements with winning bidders to allow them to work more closely with inventors.

Working with ICAP Ocean Tomo helps augment the agency's technology licensing program, which historically has been the main way NASA has allowed many industries--including the medical, aerospace, automotive, and communications sectors--leverage its technology.

For instance, signal-processing algorithms developed by a former Goddard researcher were licensed by a Silicon Valley company called DynaDx and are now used to provide medical diagnosis for problems related to the brain's blood flow, such as stroke, dementia, and traumatic brain injury, according to NASA.

NASA is not the only federal agency that allows the private sector to take advantage of technology it has developed. Agencies with research laboratories--such as the Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Department of Commerce and Department of Homeland Security--also use a broad federal technology transfer program to extend their technology to the private sector.

In fact, President Obama last year even called upon federal agencies to accelerate their technology-transfer efforts to help bolster U.S. economic and job growth.

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