NASA Unveils Technology Transfer Portal

Space agency aims to make it easier for private sector companies to license its technology innovations.

Patience Wait, Contributor

June 22, 2012

3 Min Read

Mission Intelligence: NRO's Newest Spy Satellites

Mission Intelligence: NRO's Newest Spy Satellites

Mission Intelligence: NRO's Newest Spy Satellites (click image for larger view and for slideshow)

NASA has brought online a new technology transfer portal to make its research and development work available to the private sector in the form of licenses, patents, and intellectual property agreements.

"One of NASA's highest priority goals is to streamline its technology transfer procedures, support additional government-industry collaboration, and encourage the commercialization of novel technologies flowing from our federal laboratories," said NASA administrator Charles Bolden in a statement. The agency sees tools such as the portal as a useful way to streamline and increase the rate of aerospace technology transfer to the private sector, he said.

The portal links to five dozen different technology areas, some of them clearly connected to NASA's space orientation, such as planetary navigation, tracking, and telemetry. Others focus on advances in key technologies, such as communications, robotics, information systems, energy generation, and materials. Clicking on any of the keywords provides a list of dozens of patents, software, technology licenses, and spinoff opportunities, or you can use the search function to look through the patent database.

Another page on the site will match interested parties with NASA experts and technologies at one of the agency's 10 research, space, and flight centers.

[ NASA scientists get new horsepower. See NASA Upgrades Pleiades Supercomputer. ]

For those interested in taking a deeper look into the process of technology transfer by NASA, another Web page presents a dashboard with an array of analytics. For instance, statistics are provided for each center's new technologies reported--NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory currently leads with 2,026; Goddard Space Flight Center is next with 1,084. Another analytic shows that technology licenses generated $4.4 million in revenue in 2008 and $4.6 million in 2010, with lower amounts reported in 2009, 2011, and 2012.

Many NASA-developed technologies are applicable to difficult problems on Earth, as well as in space, such as closed environment recycling systems, devices designed to operate remotely in harsh environments, and energy generation and storage methods. Other technologies make use of the agency's vast amount of geographic data, generated by its Earth-observing satellites.

One of the agency's most widely known spinoffs is temper foam, developed in 1966 to offer improved comfort and protection in NASA's airplane seats. Also known as memory foam, it has been used in many products, including football helmets, shoe insoles, bedsore protection for invalids, and even prosthetics for injured thoroughbreds.

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Patience Wait


Washington-based Patience Wait contributes articles about government IT to InformationWeek.

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