Measuring Tech-to-Market Success at the Department of Energy

How do new energy technologies get from the lab to the market?

That’s a tough question, especially when it comes to federal research at the Department of Energy. Transferring technologies from the DOE to private companies isn’t always easy. Barriers such as the “valley of death”—a gap between the end of public funding and the start of private funding—can stop a transfer.

The DOE has taken steps to address barriers, such as providing training on transferring technologies. But according to a new report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), it could better measure the progress of its technology transfer efforts.

GAO recommended developing performance goals and measures for technology transfers.

NIST Releases Draft Recommendations to Enhance Federal R&D Commercialization 

In June, 2018, Arch Street participated in a stakeholder meeting at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, Maryland as part of NIST’s Return on Investment Initiative, an effort led by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to “unleash American innovation” into the U.S. economy with a goal to maximize the transfer of Federal investments in science and technology to:

  • meet current and future economic and national security needs in a rapidly shifting technology marketplace and enhance U.S. competitiveness globally, and
  • attract greater private sector investment to create innovative products, processes, and services, as well as new businesses and industries.”

As part of this effort, NIST has released a draft green paper Return on Investment Initiative for Unleashing American Innovation [PDF] detailing steps to modernize the U.S. system of technology transfer and innovation. The actions outlined in the green paper would help maximize returns on the taxpayer investment in R&D.  The document makes recommendations across five key areas:

1 – Reducing Regulatory and Administrative Burdens
2 – Increasing Private Sector Engagement
3 – Promoting Entrepreneurship In Federal R&D
4 – Development of New Tech Transfer Tools
5 – Improved Metrics & Measurement of R&D Outcomes and Impacts

NIST will consider additional public feedback on the green paper by January 9, 2019, via roi@nist.gov. A final version is expected in early 2019.