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14 mentation of research results through research activities or Indian Affairs and tribal government funds. Approxi- research management to the same extent as the state DOT mately 35% of the LTAP/TTAP centers reported receiv- respondents. Seventy-five percent of the LTAP/TTAP cen- ing university funds and 41% receive funds from local ter respondents were from centers funded by a state DOT, governments. Only 5% of the centers reported receiving but operated by others outside the agency--mostly by uni- funding from the private sector. versities. Approximately one-third of the LTAP/TTAP cen- ters respondents had experience in technology transfer as senior management. Nearly one-fourth had experience as CURRENT CONTEXT--TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER IN OTHER VENUES APPLICABLE TO HIGHWAY central office management or research management. The TRANSPORTATION--PUBLIC AND diversity of roles at the LTAP/TTAP centers as they partic- PRIVATE SECTOR ipate in technology transfer or implementation of research results may be from the wide reach that the centers use in There are several mechanisms in the public and private sec- attracting personnel to their programs. tors that are relevant to transportation technology transfer practices. This section highlights a few of these mechanisms For state DOTs there were a few noteworthy items that and relates them to their usefulness for the transportation emerged from examining the agency-wide coordinating role community. and from determining whether it influenced any aspects of technology transfer. Four of every five agencies having a group or person in the coordinating role clearly reported that Technology Transfer and Commercialization in the Private Sector more funding was necessary for technology transfer, whereas those state DOTs without such a coordinating function were The private sector has very different reasons for its interest somewhat equally divided in their assessment of whether in technology transfer, most based on the process of bring- more funding was needed. Clearly, the coordinating function ing a product to market; that is, commercialization. How- affects the perspective for funding needs. Other items to note ever, the origins of private-sector technology transfer and its are that the organizations with a coordinating function tended subsequent maturing have application for public-sector to recognize the positive influence of senior management sup- highway transportation. Although private-sector companies port more than the state DOTs without such a person or group bring about technology transfer within their own organiza- filling the coordinating role. The state DOTs with technology tions and among private-sector partners, the most relevant transfer coordination also indicated a greater openness to private-sector technology transfer activities for this study including innovations into projects and were more accepting are those between the private-sector and public-sector of management assistance as compared with their peers with- agencies. In particular, the private-sector technology transfer out a person or organization in the coordination role. process, especially as it emerged with public-sector defense applications, provided a foundation for technology transfer Other general information about the respondents and their practices within other areas in the public sector, including technology transfer operations includes the following: highway transportation. · A majority of state DOT survey respondents (approxi- As background, a short synopsis of the development of mately 85%) were responsible for agency-wide coordi- technology transfer in the private sector is included from nation of technology transfer activities, and most of these NCHRP Synthesis of Highway Practice 312: Facilitating were associated with the agency's research function. Partnerships in Transportation Research (Harder 2003b). · More than half of the research units in state DOTs share This synopsis shows the rapid development of the mecha- the responsibility of technology transfer with other units nisms for partnerships, which increased the opportunities for in the agency, one-quarter are solely responsible, and technology transfer, facilitated technology transfer activi- two respondents reported that no unit in their department ties, and also fostered the development of technology transfer was specifically assigned responsibility for technology methodologies. transfer. · The LTAP/TTAP centers that respondents represented During the late 1980s and 1990s, competitive advantage became have been operating for an average of nearly 20 years, one of the forces behind the collaboration of industry with its with California DOT and INDOT centers having con- suppliers and within distribution channels. . . . Interests centered ducted organized technology transfer activities for 50 on decreasing the time for research and technology development and 40 years, respectively. as a means to speed products to the marketplace. · The LTAP/TTAP respondents' centers not including Global competition began to pose a significant threat, particu- California's have annual budgets that average $375,000. larly for science and technology applications. U.S. anti-trust If California's center is added, the average total budget laws were seen as too restrictive for meeting these broad eco- is $495,000. nomic challenges. Starting in 1980 federal laws were enacted beginning with the StevensonWydler Technology Innovation · All of the LTAP centers receive federal-aid LTAP Act, which `required Federal laboratories to facilitate the trans- funds. In addition, TTAP centers receive Bureau of fer of Federally owned and originated technology to state and
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15 local governments and to the private sector' (Science and Engi- The rush to get products to market and to create profit for neering Indicators 2000). Other legislation such as the National a company is paramount. The literature today points most Cooperative Research Act (1984); the Federal Technology Trans- fer Act (1986), which created Cooperative Research and Devel- decidedly at commercialization rather than other functions of opment Agreements (CRADAs); and the National Cooperative technology transfer in which private-sector companies may Research and Production Act (1993) each enhanced the oppor- be engaged. Companies transfer technology within their own tunities for partnerships, joint ventures, and other collaborative organizations and with partners and other peer organizations; research and technology transfer activities between the public and private sectors. however, the commercialization activities far outweigh other technology transfer functions and in these processes there are See Appendix C for a descriptive list of related laws foster- particularly valuable lessons for the public sector seeking to ing cooperative relationships for technology transfer. enhance its methods and practices. One result of the legislation in the 1980s (specifically, the Commercialization has fostered a significant new infra- Federal Technology Transfer Act of 1986) was the formal structure for technology transfer. "Concerned that it might chartering of the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Tech- be difficult for companies to locate promising technologies nology Transfer (FLC), a nationwide network of federal effectively in the complex government system, Congress cre- laboratories that provides a forum to develop strategies and ated the National Technology Transfer Center (NTTC) in opportunities for linking the laboratory mission technolo- 1989. The NTTC works with [federal agencies such as the] gies and expertise with the marketplace. The FLC was orga- National Aeronautics and Space Administration . . . Depart- nized in 1974 to promote and strengthen technology transfer ment of Defense, Environmental Protection Agency, and nationwide. Today, more than 700 major federal laboratories [others] to help identify promising technologies and match and centers and their parent departments and agencies are them with private-sector developers" (Allen 2004, p. 30). FLC members. The Consortium creates an environment that NTTC is a clear example of the support being given to foster adds value to and supports the technology transfer efforts of commercialization. its members and potential partners. The FLC develops and tests transfer methods, addresses barriers to the process, pro- Not only did a new means to identify innovations appear vides training, highlights grass-roots transfer efforts, and that augmented the private sector's efforts for commercial- emphasizes national initiatives where technology transfer izing innovations, but financial infrastructure developed as has a role. For the public and private sector, the FLC brings well. Venture capital firms and commercialization advisory laboratories together with potential users of government- organizations gained a strong foothold in the process of com- developed technologies. mercialization. These groups are experts at defining the use- fulness of a technology and matching the technology gener- The objectives of the FLC include, among others (Federal ator with a commercialization organization. They also know Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer 2005): where to get the money to fund the commercialization process and are very often the go-between or link between the uni- · Enhancement of efforts that couple federal laborato- versity or developer and the business seeking innovations for ries with American industry and small businesses to the marketplace. Although NTTC provided a path for inno- strengthen the nation's economic competitiveness; vations that originated with federal funds, the process for · Collaboration with local, state, regional, and national commercialization of innovations from research laboratories organizations that promote technical cooperation; and is ofter similar for fully private-sector-funded efforts. · Promotion of further development and adoption of effec- tive methods for federal laboratory domestic technology With a broader source of innovations and added financial transfer. capability, the researchers and developers also created a more stable working structure. In particular, research uni- Interest in technology transfer in the private sector increased versities developed offices of technology transfer, which are significantly as a result of these legislative solutions to foster well prepared to promote technologies suitable for commer- competitive advantages for U.S. businesses. The laws made cialization that are produced by the universities. These offices substantial progress in closing the gap between the univer- are also equipped to deal with intellectual property and other sity research community and the private-sector commercial legal hurdles, contracting and business arrangements, and community. There were strong incentives for universities to they understand and use the laws designed to promote tech- hold patents to their research products. Funds flowed into nology transfer. Additionally, there is pressure to increase university research programs as partnerships for technology such commercialization activities: "state lawmakers are send- transfer grew. These partnerships were the primary vehicle for ing public research universities a clear message: its time to facilitating commercialization. begin commercializing your discoveries to promote local economic development" (Schmidt 2002, p. 1). Several states Technology transfer in the private sector has changed dra- have made changes in laws that reduce or eliminate barri- matically since the late 1980s. Commercialization has com- ers that prevent collaboration between university faculty pletely overshadowed other technology transfer activities. and private companies. Also, more than one-third of the
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16 states' governors have requested additional funding for tech- cultural Library (NAL) and the National Library of Medicine nology transfer efforts leading to economic development (NLM). Both NAL and NLM are legislatively mandated. NAL (Schmidt 2002, p. 1). is chartered as a National Library, for public use, as well as the library for the Department of Agriculture. NLM serves the It is important to recap this type of private-sector experi- Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes ence to highlight some of the successful developments that of Health. It is the world's largest library for health sciences may be used by the public-sector highway community. The and was designed to serve medical professionals. Since 1999 private-sector experience has shown the need for infrastruc- it has allowed public access to services such as its free Med- ture to help in identifying innovations, and to create finan- line information system. cial and economic capability, as well as human resource capacity for facilitating technology transfer. Furthermore, NAL and NLM prepare and distribute summaries of tech- the private sector found a means to effectively close the gap nical documents; provide reference services and document between those who have an innovation and those who can procurement; supply Internet accessibility to information put the innovation to use. The structure the private sector experts; retain, preserve, and house unique documents and developed is lacking, in full measure, in public-sector tech- collections; and provide many other functions that are criti- nology transfer efforts. The private sector now has highly cal to technology transfer. For example, one of the objectives experienced organizations (university offices of technology of NLM is to promote the use of computers and telecom- transfer) pushing the technologies out, and they have strong munications by health professionals for purposes of improv- incentives for doing so. There are many companies ready to ing access to biomedical information for health care delivery commercialize a new technology in hopes of it being the and medical research. Also, NAL states that it is to cooper- next success for its market. Also, the private sector consis- ate with and coordinate efforts toward development of a tently has organizations whose primary role it is to make the comprehensive agricultural library and information network successful connection between the innovation generator and and to coordinate the development of specialized subject the innovation user. information for its users. In transportation, the innovation generators, whether they The resources committed to these libraries, both human are the state DOTs, consultants, research institutes, or uni- and financial, dwarf what transportation invests in its infor- versities, generally do not have similar established offices (as mation access and availability. The existing information with academia or the private sector) functioning with the sole sources such as TRIS, the Research-in-Progress database, or responsibility to promote technology to be transferred. More- TLCat, a catalog of the the holdings of many transportation over, the users of the technology to be transferred do not have libraries, do not approach the level of services that can be the profit motive to lend the same type of immediacy to the delivered by NAL or NLM. There is no full-service national activities. TRB Special Report 256: Managing Technology library for transportation, and comprehensive national ser- Transfer, A Strategy for the Federal Highway Administra- vices for transportation information are not available, tion, notes that "[U]nlike their private counterparts, public although these services are important to technology transfer managers cannot look to the profitability of competitors as an (Harder and Tucker 2004, p. xi). indication of successful innovation . . ." (Jacobs and Weimer 1986, p. 139). However, the public-sector motivations for service excellence, wise stewardship of taxpayers' dollars, Technology Diffusion and transportation safety are even more worthy causes for commitment to technology transfer. Although the streamlined Many of the private-sector technology transfer efforts have structure seen in the private sector may not yet exist in the their roots in diffusion methods, and the private sector has highway transportation community, transportation does have made good use of the research in technology diffusion. Most a growing number of technology transfer agents. Many of research in this area originates in the social and behavioral these trained experts are dedicated to LTAP/TTAP activities, sciences. Everett M. Rogers in his classic work, Diffusion of are located in the FHWA Resource Center, or are distributed Innovations, describes diffusion as the process in which an throughout the state DOTs. innovation is communicated through certain channels over time among the members of a social system. He also states that diffusion is concerned with new ideas and includes social Stable Sources of Information change. Rogers' four main elements are the innovation, com- munication channels, time, and a social system. A second element that the private and public sectors have strongly endorsed for technology transfer is information acces- Mock et al. (1993), in Moving R&D to the Marketplace: sibility and availability through a well-supported national A Guidebook for Technology Transfer Managers, discusses library system. Several examples of such resources that are the diffusion process as developed by G.W. Hough. Hough's instrumental in advancing innovation are the National Agri- diffusion process includes the following elements:
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17 · Current science and technology (is it possible?) Transportation technology transfer and implementation of · Culture (is it allowed?) research results in large part have grown from the need to · Market needs (economics--will it pay?) solve engineering problems. Technology transfer or imple- · Social needs (is it wanted?) mentation of research results in transportation has often been a collateral function of those having engineering responsi- From these elements come informing, innovating, and bilities. Consequently, the same engineering expertise has integrating processes. Outcomes of the processes are techni- traditionally been used to perform technology transfer. The cal, geopolitical, economic, and social developments. expertise needed for technology transfer however can be quite different than what has been used in transportation. To In contrast to the private sector, the public sector may not its advantage, the public-sector transportation community's be availing itself sufficiently of the research and foundational understanding of the unique expertise needed for technology methodologies about technology diffusion and technology transfer is growing. Of all the technology transfer activity transfer developed in other scientific disciplines, such as the that occurs in transportation, the LTAP/TTAP centers are social and behavioral sciences. most attuned to the diffusion models and change theory.