What Is Tech Transfer and How Can MWBEs Get Involved?

Tech Transfer, or T2, is the process through which ideas and innovations are translated into marketable products, typically through licensing agreements or franchises. Also known as Lab to Market, the term is used in a number of contexts, but its application for MWBEs lies primarily in partnering with the federal government.

How Tech Transfer Works

The federal government spends over $150 billion each year on research and development. Additionally, Uncle Sam holds over 30,000 patents, and files applications for about 1,000 new patents a year. These innovations are funded by taxpayer dollars and are owned by the people of the United States. But because the federal government isn’t in the business of producing products and services, it must partner with private industry and nonprofit entities to bring these innovations to the marketplace. This partnering process is what tech transfer is all about.

The process of tech transfer on a federal level is outlined in several pieces of legislation, including the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980 and the Federal Technology Transfer Act of 1986, the latter of which established the Federal Laboratory Consortium. The Act also gave federal laboratories permission to enter into Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs) with private industry and to license patents developed in federal laboratories. Then, in 1992, the Small Business Technology Transfer Act added a mandate that federal agencies that spend more than than $1 billion on extramural research annually set aside 0.3 percent of their R&D budget for Small Business Technology Transfer Awards.

Assistance for MWBEs

The Minority Business Development Agency is a federal agency tasked with improving access to business opportunities for small disadvantaged businesses, including MWBEs. To further this goal in the area of tech transfer, the MBDA has established the Inclusive Innovation Initiative (I-3), a “national effort to increase the participation of minority business enterprises and minority-serving institutions in technology transfer.” In addition to outreach efforts like the InVision Tour, the MDBA works with 11 other federal agencies to implement the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, both of which expand access to federal funding and other resources for small, minority and woman-owned businesses. Through these programs, MWBE’s can gain:

  • Access to patents
  • Use of federal laboratories
  • Access to on site technical and scientific expertise
  • Funding for development and manufacturing

To learn more about how your business can participate in I3, visit your local MDBA Business Center.  If there is no center in your area, reach out to the MBDA using this online form and the agency will connect you with a federal laboratory that can help you explore your ideas. 

About The Carmoon Group

The Carmoon Group, Ltd. is an insurance broker headquartered in Hicksville, New York. A minority-owned business, we are committed to helping small, disadvantages businesses grow and succeed. Through our large affiliate network, we provide comprehensive business insurance and risk management solutions to companies all across the United States. Please give us a call today so we can schedule an appointment for your insurance review. Or, if you prefer, just reach out online and we will get back to you at a convenient time.

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