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TRANSPORTATION TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER: SUCCESSES, CHALLENGES, AND NEEDS SUMMARY Technology transfer occurs with the application of every innovation; it is an unseen yet inte- gral part of the transportation system. Because technology transfer enables innovations to real- ize their benefits, the topic is an important one to consider. Therefore, this synthesis reviews the technology transfer practices currently used within the highway transportation commu- nity. It documents successful practices, discusses challenges encountered, and puts forth needs to promote improvements for technology transfer activities and processes. Technology transfer is defined as the activity leading to the adoption of a new-to-the-user product or procedure by any user or group of users. New-to-the-user means any improvement over existing technologies or processes and not only a recent invention or research result. Technology transfer includes research results implementation and product or process deploy- ment. Activities leading to the adoption of innovations can include knowledge transfer, train- ing and education, demonstrations and showcases, communications and marketing efforts, and technical assistance. In addition, in this transportation context, technology transfer includes the complex process of change, a comprehensive achievement dealing with cultural as well as technical issues. Technology transfer for transportation applications emerged as a national issue and a rec- ognized activity in the 1960s when highway agencies, through an AASHTO special commit- tee, highlighted the time lag between completion of research and the adoption to practice of the results. FHWA shortly thereafter institutionalized its commitment to this topic by estab- lishing a Technology Transfer Program and reorganizing to form an Office of Implementa- tion. Local agencies were identified as requiring support in the application of highway tech- nologies and, in 1982, started the Rural Technical Assistance Program, now known as the Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP), and the Tribal Technical Assistance Program (TTAP) were created. Throughout these years, robust research programs, including those in California, Indiana, and Virginia, were engaging in technology transfer and making a con- certed effort to get innovations into practice. FHWA continued to emphasize the role technology transfer played in transportation by forming the Office of Technology Applications, which became the home for all of its tech- nology transfer and implementation programs. With the advent of the Strategic Transporta- tion Research Program (SHRP) products implementation efforts, AASHTO began a lead states program that used the expertise and experience in one state to foster the adoption of innovations from SHRP in other states. This AASHTO effort was the basis for the currently operating AASHTO Technology Implementation Group (TIG), which facilitates the adop- tion of new technologies by having states that are experienced in specific technologies share their knowledge and skills with other, interested states. TIG annually selects three technolo- gies for its technology transfer efforts. FHWA also has continued to highlight the application of innovations through its Priority, Market-Ready Technologies, which are proven and applied technologies worthy of application nationwide. For the past 40 years, state departments of transportation (DOTs) and their research units have been active participants in technology transfer through the application of their own

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2 research programs' results. Every program and agency performs the essentials of technology transfer to varying degrees depending on the resources committed. Paralleling the development of technology transfer in public-sector transportation was the explosion of technology transfer activities in the private sector. After much effort, the 1980s witnessed the passage of instrumental legislation beginning with the StevensonWydler Technology Innovation Act (1980), which allowed federal laboratories to transfer results of research to state and local governments and, in particular, to the private sector. Other acts established Cooperative Research and Development Agreements and other mechanisms to facilitate the private sector's use of federal research products and enhanced opportunities for partnerships and other collaborative research and business development activities resulting from technology transfer. Currently, commercialization is the most critical aspect of technology transfer in the pri- vate sector. Furthermore, commercialization is viewed as an important economic engine and as an essential element of competitive advantage. Commercialization is important whether the technology transfer occurs within an organization--most often value is placed on the technology according to its usefulness in the marketplace or whether the technology transfer is between private-sector companies--often some technology useful for the supply chain partners or between the private sector and federal public-sector research and development-- where the literature shows some relevance to the context for technology transfer and imple- mentation of research results for state DOTs. Because of this relevance, the private-sector experience with federally funded research or research and development done outside the organization is generally the context used for this synthesis when referring to private-sector involvement in technology transfer activities. The private sector has, in effect, institutionalized its technology transfer and commer- cialization process activities. The academic research and federal or other laboratories are ex- perts at getting their innovations noticed. Academic offices of technology transfer are com- mon in this environment. Private industry eagerly anticipates commercialization opportunities from inside their own organizations or from other research organizations. Additionally, and most importantly, the private sector has established a strong link between those generating innovations and those seeking to bring them to market. There are myriad organizations fill- ing the role of "transfer agent"--bringing both innovation generator and commercial enter- prise together--with the ability to raise venture capital and other necessary resources for suc- cessful commercialization. Currently, there are three common approaches of technology transfer in state DOTs: research-unit-led, operating-unit-led, and LTAP/TTAP-center-led approaches. Formal pro- cesses are found most frequently in the research units and the LTAPs and TTAPs. States are adopting some of the practices from the private sector, notably seeking out ready-to-use inno- vations for application in their own state. Some other issues addressed by academia and the pri- vate sector, such as licensing and patents, are now apparent and are beginning to be addressed or are on the near horizon for the states. Characteristics of the state DOT technology transfer activities and LTAP/TTAP centers are summarized here. The information reported includes the most current information avail- able at the time this synthesis was being assembled, generally from the year 2003. Close to one-half of the state DOT respondents and nearly 40% of the LTAP/TTAP sur- vey respondents have 5 or fewer years of experience in technology transfer. State DOTs reported that, on average, they spend approximately 6.5% of total agency funds committed to research and research-related activities on technology transfer and implementation activities. This figure includes all types of funding; state, State Plan- ning and Research (SP&R), other federal, and any other type of funding received for research and research-related activities.

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3 The 38 state DOTs providing information in the synthesis survey estimated that, on average, they spend approximately 9.3% of their Research Part II SP&R federal-aid funds on technology transfer and implementation activities. This figure is a component part of the previous bullet point's total expenditure figure. Both state DOTs and LTAP/TTAP centers showed substantially larger technology trans- fer program investment for respondents having 15 years or greater experience, as opposed to those respondents with 6 to 14 years experience and those with 5 years or less. Having a role assigned in the DOT for agency-wide coordination of technology transfer or implementation of research results showed a strong relationship to larger investment in technology transfer activities. Four of every five agencies having a group or person in an agency-wide coordinating role reported that more funding was necessary for technology transfer, whereas those state DOTs without such a coordinating function were somewhat equally divided in their assessment of whether they needed more funding or not. Organizations with a coordinating function tended to recognize the positive influence of senior management support more than did the state DOTs without such a person or group filling the coordinating role. State DOTs with technology transfer coordination also indicated a greater openness to including innovations into projects and were more accepting of management assistance as compared with their peers without a person or organization in the coordination role. The LTAP/TTAP center respondents have been operating for an average of nearly 20 years, with the California and Indiana DOT centers conducting organized technology transfer activities for 50 and 40 years, respectively. States routinely use a broad variety of communications vehicles and methods to convey the message of the innovation and their abilities to assist in technology transfer. The highway transportation community has three major technology transfer operating approaches. The approach for each can generally be described as either research-unit-led, operating-unit-led, or LTAP/TTAP-center-led. The two most common are those led by the research unit and the LTAP/TTAP centers. Comparisons with the private sector were revealed as follows: The private sector consistently has organizations whose primary role it is to make the suc- cessful connection between the innovation generator and the innovation user. These may be venture capital firms, business incubator consortia, or other similar facilitator organi- zations. The public transportation sector does not have such roles clearly defined and in routine practice, with the exception of the transfer agents within the LTAP/TTAP centers. The private and public (other than transportation) sectors strongly endorse a well- supported national library system for information accessibility and availability, which is essential to technology transfer. Currently, transportation has no comprehensive coor- dinated system of libraries or a central national library providing full information ser- vices, including capabilities for archiving and preservation. In contrast to the private sector, the public sector may not be availing itself sufficiently of the research and foundational methodologies about technology diffusion and tech- nology transfer developed in other scientific disciplines, such as the social and behav- ioral sciences. Successful technology transfer occurs when the following factors are present: There is a push of technology into a user environment; A champion is associated with the research and technology transfer effort; Pilots and demonstrations allow hands-on learning; Senior management support attracts attention, leads by example, and gives guidance to the effort; Early involvement of the user allows early resolution of problems and prepares the user for fully embracing the innovation;

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4 There is a technology transfer or implementation plan to identify strategies and tactics; Qualified people are in lead roles; Partnerships leverage resources and attract the right participants; There is progress monitoring and committed funding; A focus area exists for technology transfer efforts; Emphasis is on marketing and communications; and Benefits of the technology meet users' needs. Many of the elements of success in one project or for one organization can be a signifi- cant challenge for other projects or organizations. The challenges experienced by state DOTs include the following: Change and risk aversion issues; Time constraints; Staffing and workload; Structural and organizational issues; Commitment of the agency and of influential individuals; Weak outcomes of research, perceived and actual; Funding and costs; Communications and coordination; Measures of performance; and Implementation processes. The challenges experienced by LTAP/TTAP centers include the following: Instructors and technical experts; Funding; Marketing, communications, and information availability; Change issues; Staffing and time; Materials and courses; and Measuring outcomes. In the course of performing this study two categories of actions were noted. Technology transfer agents and their organizations tended to either encourage others to adopt or apply innovations that would benefit a potential user; in essence, "pushing" the technology out into the transportation community for it to be used. At other times it was noted that technologies or innovations were sought by organizations or their technology transfer agents to apply to specific problems or, in essence, pulling the technology into the agency for use. The top three needs of state DOTs were: (1) more time to perform technology transfer, (2) additional funding, and (3) technology transfer training. State DOTs believe they could use training in the processes of technology transfer. LTAP/TTAP centers consider technol- ogy transfer training as one of their lowest ranked needs, most likely because the centers see these skills as existing strengths and do not place a priority on further enhancing these skills in place of addressing other more pressing needs. The LTAP/TTAP centers consider additional funding the single most important need. The other needs cited by more than half of the LTAP/TTAP respondents are greater management support for technology transfer, more trained staff, greater access to technical expertise, and assistance for management and administrative responsibilities associated with technology transfer. A number of state DOTs and LTAP/TTAP centers reported needs in the areas of man- agement and administrative processes associated with making others aware of and encour-

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5 aging others to use innovations. These are listed here in order of the rated need for each state DOT and LTAP/TTAP center: State DOTs Implementation plans Evaluation and assessment procedures Executive briefing models. LTAP/TTAP centers Evaluation and assessment procedures Executive briefing models Marketing plans. For state DOTs, additional funding, added time for conducting technology transfer, and greater senior management support are the three most frequently mentioned areas of need when pulling promising technologies into the organization. The LTAP/TTAP centers indicated more extensive contact with external-to-the-agency peers to determine candidate technologies, added time to perform technology transfer, and included methods or techniques to assist in making the process of technology transfer more efficient as the three most common needs cited in the survey responses.