NIST wants public insight on how to streamline R&D collaboration

The agency wants advice on how it can use federal regulations to more effectively encourage technology innovation from government-sponsored R&D.
Liliana Stan of the Center for Nanoscale Materials at the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois uses a sputtering system in center's clean room facility to create thin films of nanomaterials. (Argonne National Laboratory / Flickr)

The National Institute of Standards and Technology is looking for the public’s help in refreshing how it uses research and development funds to help bring new products to market.

NIST officials issued a request for information in the Federal Register on Tuesday, seeking insight on how it can use federal regulations to more effectively encourage technology innovation from government-sponsored R&D.

“In an increasingly competitive environment, it is important to ask whether and how current laws, regulations, policies and practices could more effectively promote technology transfer to productive uses, and, where appropriate, commercialization of federally-developed technologies and Federal research capabilities, and also encourage public-private partnerships to reach their full potential to create value for the U.S. economy in the 21st Century,” the RFI said.

The President’s Management Agenda recently tasked NIST to work with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) on a cross-agency priority goal to “refocus” the regulatory framework surrounding the transfer of federally funded technology to the private market.


The RFI notes that the federal government invests $150 billion annually across 300 federal laboratories as well as U.S. universities and private sector R&D institutions. That research could potentially provide new technologies that can be transferred to private companies that can provide them on the open market.

The PMA’s Lab-to-Market CAP goal calls on NIST and OSTP to craft new public-private partnership models and mechanisms to streamline the technology transfer from R&D facilities, as well as develop better policies for evaluating potential return on investment from the research.

The RFI calls on stakeholders to provide insight on the current state the government’s technology transfer policies, the ease of engagement with federal labs and the access of R&D funds “through collaborations, licensing, and other mechanisms.”

NIST officials also plan to hold a series of meetings, and a public webcast, in May and June to get more insight on the current technology transfer policies and where they may be improved.

Public comments can be submitted to NIST until 5 p.m. EST on July 30 through both the agency’s webpage and an email address.

Carten Cordell

Written by Carten Cordell

Carten Cordell is a Senior Technology Reporter for FedScoop. He is a former workforce and acquisition reporter at Federal Times, having previously served as online editor for Northern Virginia Magazine and Investigative Reporter for, Virginia Bureau. Carten was a 2014 National Press Foundation Paul Miller Fellow and has a Master’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. He is also a graduate of Auburn University and promises to temper his passions for college football while in the office.

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