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USDOT Technology Transfer Program:  How technology transfer supports the USDOT mission

USDOT’s mission is to “serve the United States by ensuring a fast, safe, efficient, accessible and convenient transportation system that meets our vital national interests and enhances the quality of life of the American people, today and into the future.2  USDOT’s top priority is Safety.  USDOT defines Safety as “working to improve public health and safety by reducing transportation related fatalities and injuries.”3

USDOT’s approach to T2 is diverse and unique to each mode of transportation.  The department accomplishes its mission through multiple strategies that include research partnerships with academia, industry, commercial, nonprofit, non-government, and government agencies; development and advancement of sound and implementable national transportation policies, promotion of safe transportation behaviors, and the delivery of training in transportation safety and efficiency practices.  USDOT’s T2 activities focus upon research collaboration, knowledge generation, transfer, and dissemination; grants, cooperative agreements, and contracts; and practical application of research.

The USDOT Research, Development, and Technology (RD&T) programs conduct T2 through:

  • each Operating Administration (OA)
  • federal laboratories and
  • grants, cooperative agreements, and cooperative research and development agreements (CRADAs),

USDOT’s T2 program provides leadership and expertise to facilitate the timely exchange of knowledge and technologies for development and advancement of products and methodologies that improve transportation safety and efficiency.  Through the T2 process, the federal investment in transportation research yields safety, efficiency, and economic benefits.

USDOT Plan for Accelerating Technology Transfer and Commercialization

The three principal goals of USDOT’s T2 program are to:

  • increase the number of T2 partnerships with entities from academia, industry, commercial, nonprofit, government, and non-government,
  • increase the number of commercialization activities, and
  • improve the efficiency of USDOT T2 business processes.

The USDOT T2 plan approach expects to achieve the acceleration of the technology transfer and commercialization results by regular assessment and evaluation of the plan’s objectives and activities through the use of metrics.  During the plan’s first year, USDOT will work to baseline USDOT activities results using collected data and analysis. 

The USDOT 2013-2017 plan goals with associated objectives, activities, metrics, and timeline are outlined below. 

Table 1 Goal 1:  Increase the number of T2 partnerships with academia, industry, commercial, nonprofit, government, and non-government entities

No.

Objective

Activities

Metric

Timeline

1

Increase awareness about USDOT T2 program among government and non-government partners.

  • Explore outreach activities (e.g., conferences, trade meetings, social media, and targeted marketing).
  • Explore collaboration with local and regional transportation safety-focused entities, including USDOT regional offices.
  • Number of executed T2 agreements with government partners.
  • Number of executed T2 agreements with non-government partners.
  • Number of teleconferences attended and presentations made.

Baseline metrics for 2013.  Target to be established in 2014.

 

Table 2 Goal 2:  Increase the number of commercialization

No.

Objective

Activities

Metric

Timeline

1

Increase commercialization opportunities.

  • Publicize T2 and available materials for licensing.
  • Publicize collaboration opportunities.
  • Disseminate T2 best practices that advance the development of technology evaluations leading to commercialization activities.
  • Number of license applications submitted.
  • Number of collaboration engagements.

 

Baseline metrics for 2013.  Target to be established in 2014.

2

Increase the knowledge of commercialization opportunities.

  • Survey and evaluate transportation and economic indicators.
  • Coordinate opportunities with intermediaries to help streamline matching technologies and potential economic developers.
  • Total revenue generated by USDOT licensees.

 

Baseline metrics for 2013.  Target to be established in 2014.

 

Table 3 Goal 3:  Improve the efficiency of USDOT T2 business processes

No.

Objective

Activities

Metric

Timeline

1

Evaluate and modify USDOT T2 policies and processes to be more effective and user-friendly while maintaining statutory requirements.

  • Implement identified policy and process improvements.
  • Evaluate process for executing in partnerships agreements (grants, contracts, CRADAs, collaborative agreements, and others).
  • Streamline USDOT T2 partnership processes and procedures to maximize transfer effectiveness.
  • Number of policies revised and implemented.
  • Number of process changes identified.
  • Reduce the time required to establish CRADAs.

Baseline metrics for 2013.  Target to be established in 2014.

USDOT Research Centers and Intermediary and Local Partnerships

USDOT’s Federal laboratories support the transfer of technology and are included as part of its overall laboratory evaluations.  USDOT is represented in the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer and is an active participant in the Inter-agency Working Group on Technology Transfer.  USDOT Federal laboratories will continue searching for more ways to enter into local and regional partnerships with academic institutions and partners from the aerospace, highways, automotive, rail, and waterborne industries.  Current partnerships include Research and Innovative Technology Administration’s (RITA) John A. Volpe National Transportation Center (Volpe Center) entering into a CRADA with Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Volpe’s laboratory strategic plan targets local research collaboration.  Other labs include Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) William J. Hughes Technical Center  (WJHTC) collaborating through CRADAs, and various mechanisms to partner with industry, university consortia, economic development entities, and state and local governments.  FAA collaborates with external partners through its Technical Partnerships and Information Exchange office, which facilitates CRADAs when applicable. The office develops and strengthens knowledge of aviation, extending and expanding Federal Laboratory capabilities by performing outreach activities at aviation-related conferences and events, and through partnerships with industry and university consortia, economic development entities, and state and local governments.

FAA facilitates aviation related licenses, patents, and employee activities, and establishes CRADAs in accordance with the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980 and FAA Order, Technology Transfer Program, 9550.6.  Recently, FAA entered into a Memorandum of Lease and Memorandum of Agreement with external partners to facilitate private development the Aviation Research and Technology Park near its Federal Laboratory in New Jersey, with the intent of furthering aviation related research, technology transfer and commercialization.

USDOT’s Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) laboratory is the Transportation Technology Center in Pueblo, Colorado.  This facility is operated by a private firm, Transportation Technology Center, Inc. (TTCI), under a care, custody and control contract.  This arrangement maximizes the technology transfer opportunities by providing the industry direct access to test facilities and specialized technical support services for the purposes of research and testing.  The FRA sponsors cooperative research activities that utilize this facility.  FRA does not own patents; however, many patents have resulted from FRA-sponsored research.  These patents are held by private firms and are actively utilized for commercial purposes.  FRA engages in research to develop technologies for FRA’s stakeholders, which are geared around safety.  FRA research is always conducted with industry partners, universities, and private industry.   

These are a few examples of the local and regional partnerships USDOT laboratories participate in.  USDOT will continue working to strengthen such partnerships.  More detailed descriptions of agency specific technology transfer efforts may be found in the Appendices.

Appendices

USDOT Operating Administration agency-specific technology transfer plans.

Footnotes

249 USC 101.

3USDOT Strategic Plan, FY 2012-2016.