Honors Gallery

Outstanding Technology Transfer Professional, Mid-Atlantic - Kathy Dezern

Award: Outstanding Technology Transfer Professional

Year: 2014

Award Type:

Region: Mid-Atlantic

NASA Langley Research Center

Over the last nine years, Kathy Dezern has provided the NASA Langley Research Center (LaRC) with dedicated, sustained support and leadership in its technology outreach and transfer activities.

She successfully transitioned from a support role to a position with independent responsibilities as a senior technology transfer specialist, to her current role as the Center’s Intellectual Property Manager and team lead for overall technology transfer at NASA LaRC in the Office of Innovation.

As a result of Ms. Dezern’s leadership, LaRC is recognized as leading NASA in successful technology transfer, executing up to six new licenses per year. Additionally, of NASA’s ten Centers, during this time LaRC also has led the agency in royalty income, representing up to 60% of the agency’s royalties and earning up to and in excess of $1M in some years. LaRC’s success is considered an extraordinary accomplishment since the Center’s technology transfer investments during the last five years have been reduced by approximately 80 percent.

Ms. Dezern’s leadership, LaRC is recognized as leading NASA in successful technology transfer, executing up to six new licenses per year.

To enhance the technology readiness levels of early-stage inventions, Ms. Dezern successfully advocated for management support to use a portion of royalty proceeds (up to $200K) to support research teams in developing prototype “samples” or resolve critical technical questions for certain applications. Her initiative developed a new Prototype Development Fund (PDF) that engages LaRC stakeholders and funders to distinguish technology concepts representing the best investment value for its scarce resources and enhance the cycle of technology transfer opportunities.

To increase licensing opportunities in 2012, Ms. Dezern made a major marketing contribution by initiating a new type of low-cost temporary licensing. As a result of her initiative, LaRC offers businesses a nonexclusive “Research License” for $2,500 per year, allowing these licensees access to inventors and exploratory commercial development for up to two years. The companies are able to convert the Research License to a standard license at any time, and must do so in order to actually sell products. To date, two companies have executed a Research License and two others in are discussions.

Ms. Dezern’s expertise and innovative technology transfer skills are exemplified by her success and creative achievements in her recent licensing of LaRC’s Sans EC (without electrical circuits) wireless sensor technology, a 2008 R&D Magazine R&D 100 awardee. Using her creative marketing venues, she and her team have aggressively and successfully marketed the technology, yielding an unusually high number of licenses in the past five years. Four licenses have been issued for the Sans EC technology, two of which are recent innovative Research Licenses with separate fields of use, as well as two traditional licenses.