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42 CHAPTER SIX FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS, AND SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH Findings generated by the synthesis study are summarized · Both state DOTs and LTAP/TTAP centers showed sub- here by topic beginning with the characteristics of the state stantially larger technology transfer program invest- departments of transportation (DOTs) and Local Technical ments for respondents having 15 or more years of expe- Assistance Program and Tribal Technical Assistance Pro- rience. For state DOTs, the investment amount was gram (LTAP/TTAP) centers' programs. more than three times that of respondents having 6 to 14 years experience and more than double the invest- · Close to half of the state DOT respondents and nearly ments being made by those with experience of 5 years 40% of the LTAP/TTAP survey respondents have 5 or or less. LTAP/TTAP center technology transfer invest- fewer years experience in technology transfer. ments for the respondents with the most experience · More than half of the research units in state DOTs share were nearly twice that of the respondents' programs the responsibility of technology transfer with other with 6 to 14 years experience and greater than twice the units in the agency, one-quarter of the research units are investments of programs for those having experience of solely responsible, and two respondents reported that 5 years or less. no unit in their department was specifically assigned · Four of every five agencies having a group or person in responsibility for technology transfer. an agency-wide coordinating role reported that more · State DOTs reported that on average they commit funding was necessary for technology transfer, whereas approximately 6.5% of total agency funds to research those state DOTs without such a coordinating function and research-related activities on technology transfer and were somewhat equally divided in their assessment of implementation activities. This figure includes all types whether or not they needed more funding. of funding; state, State Planning & Research (SP&R), · Organizations with a coordinating function tended to other federal, and any other funding received for research recognize the positive influence of senior management and research-related activities. (Note that without Cali- support more than did the state DOTs without such a fornia's substantial commitment to technology transfer person or group filling the coordinating role. State DOTs using agency and other funds in addition to Research with technology transfer coordination also indicated a Part II, SP&R moneys, the average total for respondents greater openness to including innovations into projects would decrease to 5.3%.) and were more accepting of management assistance · Of the 38 state DOTs providing information in the syn- when compared with their peers without a person or thesis survey, their best estimate was that on the average organization in the coordination role. they spend approximately 9.3% of their Research Part II, · Having a role assigned in the DOT for agency-wide SP&R federal-aid funds on technology transfer and coordination of technology transfer or implementation implementation activities. This figure is a component part of research results showed a strong relationship to of the previous bullet point's total expenditure figure. larger investment in technology transfer activities. For · Survey responses from the LTAP/TTAP centers reported programs with a person or group assigned to coordinate that they have been operating for an average of nearly the technology transfer activities the investment in 20 years, with California DOT and Indiana DOT centers technology transfer was 10 times that of agencies that having conducted organized technology transfer activi- had no such coordination. ties for 50 and 40 years, respectively. · States routinely use a broad array of communications · Responding LTAP/TTAP centers have annual budgets vehicles and methods to convey the message of the totaling, on average, $375,000, and including California, innovation and their abilities to assist in technology $495,000. Nearly all of the centers reported receiving transfer. federal-aid funds (one center reported state-only funds). Two TTAP centers received Bureau of Indian Affairs Technology transfer and implementation applications as and tribal government funds as well. Approximately compared with the private sector were revealed as follows. 35% of the centers reported receiving university funds and 41% receive funds from local governments. Only · The private sector consistently has organizations whose 5% of the centers reported receiving funding from the primary role it is to make the successful connection private sector. between the innovation generator and the innovation
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43 user. These may be venture capital firms, business devel- reviewed for this synthesis support the notion that the use of opment consortia, or other similar facilitator organiza- any of these factors is a positive move toward success. Using tions. The public transportation sector does not have multiple factors for each technology transfer or implementa- such roles clearly defined and in routine practice, with tion project is better than using only one or two. the exception of the transfer agents within the LTAP/ TTAP centers. Many of the elements of success in one project or for one · The private and public (other than transportation) sectors organization can be a significant challenge for other projects strongly endorse a well-supported national library system or organizations. The challenges experienced by the state for information accessibility and availability, which is DOTs are concerned with: essential to technology transfer. Currently, transportation has no comprehensive coordinated system of libraries or · Change and risk-aversion issues; a national library providing full information services, · Time constraints; including capabilities for archiving and preservation. · Staffing and workload; · In contrast with the private sector, the public sector may · Structural and organizational issues; not be availing itself sufficiently of the research and · Commitment of the agency and of influential individuals; foundational methodologies about technology diffusion · Weak outcomes of research, perceived and actual; and technology transfer developed in other scientific · Funding and costs; disciplines, such as social and behavioral sciences. · Communications and coordination; · Measures of performance; and The structure for technology transfer and implementation · Implementation processes. of research results is as follows: Whereas the challenges experienced by the LTAP/TTAP · The highway transportation community has three major centers deal with: technology transfer operating approaches; research- unit-led, operating-unit-led, and LTAP/TTAP-center- · Instructors and technical experts; led. The two most common approaches are those led by · Funding; the research unit and the LTAP/TTAP centers. · Marketing, communications, and information availability; · Considering the different missions of the two primary · Change issues; structured approaches, there is only modest linking of · Staffing and time; the expertise contained in the LTAP/TTAP centers and · Materials and courses; and the technology transfer or implementation needs inter- · Measuring outcomes. nal to the DOT. Legal issues, including patents and property ownership, Successful technology transfer occurs when the following factors are present: were not reported in the survey responses as primary chal- lenges or barriers to technology transfer or implementation · There is the push of technology into a user environment. of research results. Where these issues have arisen, states fre- · A champion is associated with the research and tech- quently have some precedent that allows this to be overcome nology transfer effort. without much discussion. LTAP/TTAP centers also tend to · Pilot projects and demonstrations allow hands-on learning. focus their efforts on readily available techniques and pro- · Senior management support attracts attention, leads by cesses and not spend scarce resources on technologies or example, and gives guidance to the effort. innovations that may have some limitations on use. · Early involvement of the user allows early resolution of problems and prepares the user for fully embracing the Keying from challenges reported in this document and innovation. other sources, state DOTs and LTAP/TTAP centers have rec- · There exists a technology transfer or implementation ognized various needs that can be addressed. plan to identify strategies and tactics. · Qualified people are placed in lead roles. · For pushing technology out to others · Partnerships leverage resources and attract the right participants. The top three needs of state DOTs were more time to per- · There is progress monitoring and committed funding. form technology transfer, additional funding, and technology · There exists a focus area for technology transfer efforts. transfer training, with more than half of the respondents · There is emphasis on marketing and communications. citing these three items. · Benefits of the technology meet users' needs. The state DOTs believe they could use training in the pro- These factors all correlate with successful efforts. The lit- cesses of technology transfer. Recalling that 17 of 38 respon- erature and the practice of the organizations and programs dents were in their positions 5 years or less, training in the
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44 processes of technology transfer could be a high-payoff The following are suggestions for further research. activity. It is noteworthy that LTAP/TTAP centers consider technology transfer training as one of their lower ranked · The barriers to technology transfer and implementation needs. It is most probable that the LTAP/TTAP centers see of research results that are associated with patents and these skills as existing strengths and do not place a priority intellectual property ownership are not clear. There was on further enhancing these skills in place of addressing other no focus on these issues within the survey responses, per- more pressing needs. State DOTs may be able to gain some haps indicating few problems. However, some respon- insight into the processes for technology transfer from the dents' organizations are effectively dealing with intel- lectual property ownership rights, although anecdotal LTAP/TTAP centers. information suggests barriers still exist. More in-depth questioning of state DOTs and the LTAP/TTAP centers The LTAP/TTAP centers consider additional funding as is required to determine the causes and solutions to these the most important need. The other needs there were rated barriers, if they do present substantial hurdles. The indi- by more than half of the LTAP/TTAP respondents are greater cation given by the literature is that when such barriers management support for technology transfer, more trained arise, considerable effort is required to overcome them. staff, greater access to technical expertise, and assistance Investigating the processes used by public-sector trans- for management and administrative responsibilities associ- portation organizations and the relationship of these ated with technology transfer. These needs identify some of processes to facilitating technology transfer could be the challenges that LTAP/TTAP centers expressed about productive. Additional work on this topic could yield staffing, and they also show the difficulties that centers have valuable information. encountered in acquiring talent for their many and diverse · Further research to investigate the staffing, time, and activities. other resources required for optimal efforts in tech- nology transfer and implementation of research results A number of state DOTs and LTAP/TTAP centers would be helpful to those now struggling with finding reported needs in the areas of management and administra- the resources required to conduct these activities. tive processes associated with technology transfer. For · In the future, it will be important for public-sector LTAP/TTAP centers these are evaluation and assessment transportation organizations to be skilled in the com- procedures, executive briefing models, and marketing mercialization of research products. Currently, trends in plans. For state DOTs these are implementation plans, eval- the public sector are moving toward the private-sector uation and assessment procedures, and executive briefing commercialization model. models. · Further investigations into the applicability of skills developed by LTAP/TTAP centers for use by the research and operating units of state DOTs in their technology · For pulling technology into the organization transfer or implementation of research results efforts could yield highly beneficial results. Opportunities for State DOTs reported that additional funding, added time cross-functional exchange of talent should be considered. for conducting technology transfer, and greater senior man- · There appears to be great potential for the methodolo- agement support as the three most frequently mentioned areas gies on diffusion developed in other disciplines to have of need when pulling promising technologies into the orga- useful application in public-sector transportation prac- nization. Whereas LTAP/TTAP centers indicated that more tice. Research into how such diffusion theory can be extensive contact with external-to-the-agency peers to deter- applied to public-sector transportation would contribute mine candidate technologies, added time to perform technol- to application of innovations to transportation. ogy transfer, and methods or techniques to assist in making · Research is needed in which technology transfer strate- the process of technology transfer more efficient as their three gies and technologies are best matched to various situ- most common needs. ations and circumstances.