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Appendix 1: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

FAA Plan for Accelerating Technology Transfer and Commercialization of Federal Research in Support of High Growth Businesses

Introduction/Background

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.

Objectives

The FAA Technology Transfer Program’s (TTP’s) objectives are to:

  • Increase collaboration between FAA and the non-federal sector (private industry and organizations, state and local governments, and academia),
  • Support technology transfer and commercialization (when applicable) of the FAA’s R&D investments, and
  • Use technology transfer activities and tools to leverage resources that advance the agency’s mission, and benefit the competitiveness of United States industry.

The FAA Technology Transfer Program and how it supports the FAA Mission

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.

Technology Transfer Process

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:

  • Evaluate invention disclosures to obtain and protect patent rights as needed to promote development and commercialization
  • Negotiate and execute license agreements to convey patent rights and unpatented materials to the private sector for research, development and commercialization
  • Monitor license agreements for diligence and proper royalty payments
  • Identify collaboration partners
  • Negotiate agreements that enable access to laboratory materials, information and resources, and research and development projects to advance development and commercialization
  • Monitor collaboration agreements, including Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRDAs), for diligence and change in research scope
  • Manage the royalty payments from licensees that are paid to inventors and to the federal laboratories
  • Deploy marketing strategies to direct appropriate technologies to those stakeholders that can best commercialize them
  • Create an appropriate invention management strategy
  • Evaluate the regulatory and policy environment to determine the implications for FAA technology transfer
  • Develop an organized and robust data management system where information can be utilized, harvested easily, made transparent, and internal and external stakeholders have access to appropriate information
  • Continuously evaluate and update technology transfer processes to ensure a high level of efficiency

Strategy and Plan

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.

Goals and Metrics

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:

  • number of Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRDAs)
  • number of other types of collaborative research and development relationships
  • significant downstream outcomes from technology transfer activities

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.

  • Action 1: Develop effective outreach materials and methods
  • Action 2: Develop improved strategies for invention disclosure and scope of IP protection
  • Action 3: Expand use of Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)/Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR)
  • Action 4: Increase awareness of and participation in the Program by non-federal partners by initiating or increasing new outreach activities, e.g., trade meetings, social media, targeted marketing

Goal 2: Establish strong foundation for successful commercialization of inventions with policies and actions that encourage inventor-ship, outreach, and availability of technology.

  • Action 1: Promote inclusion of technology transfer goals and measures in FAA programs and plans
  • Action 2: Encourage laboratory directors to consider transfer technology efforts positively in job descriptions, promotion policies, and job performance evaluations of laboratory scientists and engineers
  • Action 3: Develop processes to measure scientific article publications
  • Action 4: Develop appropriate software-related metrics

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.

  • Action 1: Implement automated workflow systems for routine activities where applicable and practical
  • Action 2: Develop improved invention reporting process
  • Action 3: Streamline technology transfer partnership processes and procedures. Identify bottlenecks and devise approaches to eliminate or reduce them, and improve or simplify agreements to reduce resources and time spent on negotiation

Goal 4: Develop Technology Transfer Knowledge of the FAA and Aviation Community.

  • Action 1: Improve synergy, collaboration, and coordination among FAA technology transfer professionals
  • Action 2: Expand skill sets of FAA employee and technology transfer professionals

Evaluation Method and Outcome

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. 

Streamlining

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:

  • consideration of pay.gov to receive royalty payments
  • enhancement as practical of agreement databases
  • Enhance public access to information using internal and external websites, and other media outlets as appropriate

Facilitating Local and Regional Partnerships

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.