the NASA DTT program. The stated mission of the NASA DTT program is to focus directly on industrial development and growth to secure national economic competitiveness for space technology. The Navy ’s mission of national defense is significantly different from NASA ’s mission of space exploration; however, the mechanisms and procedures used by NASA may provide useful models and lessons for ONR technology transfer efforts.
NASA has recently undergone a significant change in position regarding domestic technology transfer. This change was driven by a top-down formulation of strategic goals for achieving the stated mission of NASA’s DTT program. One of the goals is to share “the harvest of space technology with the U.S. industrial community ” through domestic technology transfer (John Mansfield, NASA, personal communication, 1995). The significance of this approach is the priority attached to DTT and the high level of commitment to achieving it. Along with the strategic goal, quantitative objectives (or metrics) have been set to provide NASA a target for expected levels of performance. Performance is then measured against these goals by examination of detailed information collected for this purpose (e.g., number of inquiries received on the Internet, number of commercial partnerships, financial contribution to commercial partnerships).
Keys to the success of the NASA plan for facilitating technology transfer include specific actions and activities in six areas:
Policy—NASA established new policies for technology investment; partnerships; SBIR grants; federal, state, and local alliances; and R&D procurement.
Metrics—NASA developed a set of commercialization measures (or metrics) of performance. Data collection tools and reporting processes were also developed.
Marketing—NASA targets specific technology segments, as well as broad-based technology diffusion, using a variety of marketing mechanisms (e.g., industrial consortia, NASA Advanced Materials Centers, the Tech 2005 Conference, and Innovation Magazine).
Business Practices—NASA developed seven principles of operation designed to be compatible with the way the private sector conducts business (e.g., contractor-developed technology commercialization, small business technology development, and regional alliances with industry and universities).
Training and Education—NASA employees in field centers and headquarters are trained to conduct commercial technology transfer.
Electronic Network—An electronic network links NASA field centers and headquarters with each other and with the commercial sector.
The new NASA initiatives appear to have achieved a clearer focus on the DTT process and results. Since 1992 technology partnerships have increased from 328 to more than 3,000 and investments have increased from $174 million