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Feds To Post Open Data From 700 R&D Facilities

Research.Data.gov upgrade furnishes machine-readable research data to entrepreneurs, innovators, and manufacturers.

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Entrepreneurs and innovators can now access machine-readable research data in the areas of energy, healthcare, and space from more than 700 federal research and development facilities to assist them in researching, building, and testing new technologies through a major enhancement to the Research.Data.gov portal.

The open data, from facilities belonging to the Energy Department, National Institutes of Health, and NASA, includes advanced research tools and represents billions of dollars of taxpayer-funded investment, said Doug Rand, assistant director for entrepreneurship at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, in a Data.gov announcement posted this week.

Such activities can have a dramatic influence on US technology in key areas such as pharmaceuticals, agriculture, and clean energy, to name a few.

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To help it disseminate this open data in usable formats, the administration is asking the developer community to build new tools that will enable innovators, entrepreneurs, and manufacturers to make full use of the newly available R&D open data, the announcement said.

The Data.gov team plans to expand the website to include more comprehensive data involving other federal R&D assets, including federally funded intellectual property, said the Data.gov team at the General Services Administration, which is responsible for maintaining and upgrading the US government's official portal for open data.

The federal government spends about $130 billion annually on research and development at universities and federal laboratories throughout the country. The purpose of the massive national research effort is to create new knowledge, which in turn fosters new technologies and industries.

R&D Dashboard screenshot shows federally funded research in Ohio. (Source: Data.gov)
R&D Dashboard screenshot shows federally funded research in Ohio.
(Source: Data.gov)

Although the federal R&D open data is located in one place, each facility has its own policy. Therefore, a contact person typically will be listed for different kinds of research data, the announcement said.

"For example, some entrepreneurs may be able to access NASA's National Center for Advanced Manufacturing to produce the high-strength, defect-free joints required for cutting-edge aeronautics, and DOE's Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory for collaborative projects in additive manufacturing, composites, and carbon fiber, and other leading clean energy technologies," Rand said in his web post.

The dissemination of the research open data complements the President's Management Agenda and Lab-to-Market initiative, which was established to accelerate and improve the transfer of new technologies from federal laboratories to commercial markets by slashing the cost and complexity of licensing federal intellectual property and using federal R&D facilities where allowed by agency mission, the announcement said.

The President's Management Agenda includes directly related initiatives, such as making it easier to license the more than 100,000 federally funded patents, ensuring that federal agencies and employees assist the public in channeling federal R&D toward commercial production, and fostering and recruiting employees with experience in technology transfer.

The substantial upgrade to Research.Data.gov is meant to be a key step toward a comprehensive data infusion for the economy, according to the announcement.

"In the coming months, we will continue to convene the university and industry communities to work together on lowering the cost of innovation for manufacturing and other capital-intensive industries, accelerating R&D commercialization, and fueling economic growth," Rand said.

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William Welsh is a contributing writer to InformationWeek Government. He has covered the government IT market since 2000 for publications such as Washington Technology and Defense Systems. View Full Bio

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Charlie Babcock
Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
6/23/2014 | 1:47:04 AM
Defect free joints, now there's a good idea
"Cutting edge, defect free joints" might be useful on the new Bay Bridge that the CalTrans contractor is struggling to fix here in San Francisco. Beyond that, I'm not sure what data is being made available or how it might be useful. Wish I knew more. We need to know more about how federal lands are being used, for good and for ill.
User Rank: Ninja
6/20/2014 | 10:56:01 PM
Yes, but .........
Yes, this research was done by the federal government and it belongs to the American People. So, unless it HAS to be kept secret, it should be made available to them in the most efficient manner possible

But, I wish there were some way that it could be kept from others. I certainly don't imagine that the Chinese make their research results available to the world.
User Rank: Ninja
6/20/2014 | 3:20:29 PM
It makes a lot of sense to me to allow people access to this data we are all paying for anyways. 

And we all might see interesting uses of that information. Who knows what some developer might come up with in his or her basement. I think sometimes data needs to be looked at by many sets of eyes in order to get some perspective on things. 
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