Technology transfer is the first step that knowledge and discoveries take on the path to becoming a product or service for the general public.
After a new idea or invention with commercial potential is discovered, technology transfer, also known as tech transfer or T2, is the process that allows others to legally practice the invention as a commercial product, usually through a patent license or invention license. In this way, technology transfer is the business process that allows an idea to mature into a new product.
For the federal government, which employs thousands of scientists and engineers, technology transfer means the official licensing of government-owned intellectual property (typically protected by patents) to companies and startups. Those companies develop the ideas into products or services, which in turn creates jobs and sustains the U.S.’ competitive advantage in the global marketplace.
Technology transfer is more common than you might think. The government has thousands and thousands of technologies and hundreds of companies have been using technology transfer to acquire the rights to them.
Multinational corporations likes PPG and Philips Healthcare have recently licensed technologies from the government, and so have many small businesses, because it allows them to smartly leverage the government’s substantial investment in R&D. (The DOD’s annual budget for intramural research tops $30 billion per year.)
“Technology transfer is about building a better future,” said Brett Cusker, executive director of TechLink, the nonprofit organization that markets and facilitates licenses for technologies invented by the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.
The nation’s universities and laboratories have always had a connection to U.S. businesses. But the process of spinning out a technology has proven difficult, particularly for small businesses.
TechLink has a 20-year history of facilitating mutually beneficial relationships for corporate partners who share its mission of developing government inventions into problem-solving products and services.
TechLink’s national approach to technology review and marketing, and expertise across the sciences, enables it to create custom solutions, helping U.S. firms connect with the right technologies quickly and navigate licensing efficiently.
“We help companies of all sizes, from solo startups to Fortune 500 companies. But the majority have less than 100 employees,” Cusker said. “No matter the size, they all want the same thing, innovation, and our unique access and experience with federal technology transfer delivers it.”