Because of the unique capabilities available at the national laboratories, several companies have found it attractive to sponsor research at these facilities and to send their employees to national laboratories for training in novel or highly specialized techniques. These relationships have contributed to an increasing level of technology transfer from the national laboratories to industry. Technology transfer has also occurred through the employment of students and postdoctoral fellows who received their professional training while working at a national laboratory.
Although issues of patents and patent rights have been an impediment to industrial support of research at national laboratories in the past, recent years have witnessed the development of more flexible contractual agreements. Such agreements have been successful in protecting proprietary information provided by the company and in offering opportunities for the company to seek patents in its own name, based on the research it supported.