The FAA works with its federal and industry partners to develop a flexible aerospace system that fully responds to the changing needs of businesses and customers in the 21st Century. We strive to reach the next level of safety, efficiency, environmental responsibility, and global leadership, and are accountable to both the taxpayer and the flying public.
FAA federal laboratories perform research and development (R&D), test and evaluation (T&E), and provide operational support to ensure and enhance safety of the nation’s civil aerospace system. Programs include National Airspace System (NAS) operations, development and sustainment, weather, environment and energy, human factors, aerospace medicine, aircraft safety, airports, commercial space technology, wake turbulence, and long-range development of aviation systems and concepts.
The FAA Technology Transfer Program’s (TTP’s) objectives are to:
The FAA’s mission is to provide the safest, most efficient aerospace system in the world. The FAA accomplishes its mission through acquisitions, research, and outreach to other government and non-government communities.
The TTP facilitates application of new knowledge, furthers research, and streamlines partnerships to develop and commercialize inventions or intellectual property (IP). To learn more about the TTP, please visit http://faa.gov/go/techtran, or see the publicly available FAA Order, Technology Transfer Program, 9550.6 at http://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/orders_notices/.
Effectiveness of the TTP depends on innovative and highly productive aviation scientists, researchers, engineers, and technology transfer professional staff working together. The TTP strives to promote efficient technology transfer via high quality disclosures, avoidance of unnecessary costs, and timely licensing of assets to the non-federal sector for commercialization when applicable.
Figure 1 illustrates the basic technology transfer process, which contains two essential components. The top portion of the figure illustrates an “innovation cycle”, through which ideas, inventions, and IP are developed and identified. Some outcomes of this cycle advance the fundamental understanding of aviation research, or lead to new strategies for satisfying programmatic needs. Other outcomes may lead more directly to products, processes, or information benefiting the flying public or non-federal sector. These outcomes, as identified and appropriate, feed into the bottom portion of the figure, known as the “collaboration phase”. Here, they can be further refined and potentially commercialized to become useful products or services.
Figure 1 – Technology Transfer Process
The FAA’s Technology Transfer Program Office (TTPO) coordinates the technology transfer process with internal partner organizations at its federal laboratories, and external stakeholders as appropriate. These efforts are complementary activities that require significant coordination and cooperation. The TTPO manages internal technology transfer relationships, invention or intellectual property patenting and licensing, royalty payment processing and awards to inventors, and external collaboration and outreach activities. The following list highlights additional TTPO activities:
As shown previously by Figure 1, the transfer of publicly funded research and development (R&D) to the private sector is a process with discrete steps – only through the smooth transition between steps can commercialization result. Note that due to the coordination required, and the nature of business development, successful outcomes can take a significant amount of time to realize. Therefore, additional goals, actions, and measures are best derived and tracked over multiple years.
Scientists and technologists must recognize the value of their invention or intellectual property and the importance of reporting it. The processes shown by Figure 1, and resulting successful outcomes, can only be sustained through the agency’s support for people, policies, and funding to enable a technology transfer program and its processes. As much as possible, the TTPO reaches back to personnel and offices to communicate TTP activities, and promote TTP awareness.
The overarching aim of the TTP Plan (Plan) is to increase the number and pace of effective technology transfer and commercialization activities in partnership with the non-federal sector, including private firms, research organizations, and nonprofit entities. In accordance with the Plan, the TTPO continuously investigates specialized programs and resources to accelerate technology transfer. For example, the FAA’s WJHTC Federal Laboratory recently entered into land lease agreement with regional entities, which enables construction of an Aviation Research and Technology Park. The intent of the Park is to become an innovation center for furthering aviation related research, development, technology transfer, and ultimately commercialization while providing an excellent setting to bring together a diverse group of government, industry, academic, and regional stakeholders. The TTPO also focuses on improving its internal activities, such as automation of common high volume tasks, which recoup time for professionals to dedicate to partnership activities. The expectation is that expanding these types of approaches will meet Plan objectives without sacrificing quality and conformance to policy.
This Plan is a living document. The TTPO will periodically re-evaluate information and will adjust the Plan, and any TTP processes, procedures, and goals as necessary.
Strategic goals of the TTP are to advocate commercialization of new technologies developed by agency personnel and industry partners, expansion of the Unites States technology base, maximize return on investment on federally funded research and development, and provide access to resources to develop and commercialize ideas, concepts, or mutually developed products. FAA reports annually to DOT, metrics for these goals as codified at 15 USC 3710 (f). FAA also includes in its reports the following metrics and other information:
The TTPO recently began cataloging other research agreements (primarily contracts, memorandums of agreement, and interagency agreements) on behalf of the FAA. A potential outcome of this effort is to leverage information from these agreements for TTP initiatives.
Over the years 2013-2017, the TTPO intends to evaluate and put into practice as applicable and possible the following goals and actions. In the first year, it will evaluate inclusion of new actions or measures in addition to those already captured by its existing annual report.
Goal 1: Increase the number of effective technology transfer and commercialization activities in partnership with non-federal entities.
Goal 2: Establish strong foundation for successful commercialization of inventions with policies and actions that encourage inventor-ship, outreach, and availability of technology.
Goal 3: Increase the pace of effective technology transfer and commercialization activities in partnership with non-federal entities, including private firms, research organizations, and non-profit entities.
Goal 4: Develop Technology Transfer Knowledge of the FAA and Aviation Community.
The TTPO is available to guide FAA offices, as appropriate for their missions, in accomplishing technology transfer goals. The TTPO will evaluate each year relative to preceding year(s) and consider program modifications to enhance achievement of goals. Depending on the outcomes of tasks, other actions or metrics may need established to assess the impact on future objectives. The TTPO will continuously re-examine how it can better integrate technology transfer practices in its Government-wide efforts.
FAA reviews its TTP processes and practices in order to simplify and expedite processing times, administration, and dissemination of information. The following initiatives are currently underway:
FAA collaborates with the non-federal sector through its Technical Partnerships and Information Exchange office, which strengthens cooperative research, expands Federal Laboratory capabilities through outreach activities at aviation-related conferences and events, and develops partnerships with non-federal partners. The office bolstered its staffing with highly experienced engineering and science personnel having the technical depth and skill to recognize potential areas of collaboration at the earliest stages. Multiple joint university and academic outreach programs include cooperative efforts, and support of a broad set of industry and government research problems, such as radio frequency identification, magnetic resonance imaging, cognitive characteristics of air traffic control, and glass surface treatment.
In addition to the previously mentioned land lease agreement, FAA continuously pursues collaborations with non-federal partners through CRDAs and other agreement mechanisms.