T2 Mechanisms

Start exploring agreement paths

You've found federal resources at a particular federal laboratory or facility you’d like to access. Now what? At this stage, it's time to reach out to those laboratory professionals to assist with your R&D or technology commercialization goals. 

With the help of the FLC’s T2 Mechanisms database, you can explore the different types of agreement paths available and view sample agreements that must be completed to license or access federal resources at any laboratory or facility. 

Listed here are  the typical types of agreements you’ll come across when searching the National Science Foundation.

Collaboration: CRADA

The most common and flexible way for federal labs to work with the public sector, and vice versa, is through collaborative R&D agreements. The Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) is one of the most significant mechanisms for T2, and through them a federal lab can commit resources such as personnel, facilities, equipment, intellectual property, or other resources—but not funds—to any interested nonfederal party. A CRADA serves as a contract of sorts, whereby both parties should have the same expectations and understanding about the outcome of the agreement. 

The collaborative R&D efforts set forth through a CRADA result in more favorable long-term outcomes than any other T2 mechanism. They also allow for an intimate working relationship between government and industry researchers so a better understanding of commercial needs can help focus federal laboratories’ science and technology initiatives. 

Facility Usage

Gaining access to cutting-edge federal facilities and equipment obtained through facility usage agreements has enabled anyone from academic researchers to large corporate entities to perform world-class R&D that is not readily available in the private sector. The government allows the technical community, universities, industry, and other federal labs and centers to conduct specific research at federal facilities. The research allowed may be proprietary or nonproprietary in nature, and any intellectual property provisions from either the lab or the private partner must be detailed in the facility usage agreement.

Technology License

Another option for transferring federal technologies is through licensing. Licensing is the transfer of less-than-ownership rights to another party so the other party can use the intellectual property or technology for their own use and/or further development. The licensing of government-owned patents is one tool used to promote the utilization and commercialization of inventions that are developed in federal labs through agency-supported R&D. The government may grant licenses to the private sector, or industry, to use federally funded inventions, and industry may grant licenses to the government. Patent license agreements may also be incorporated within CRADAs and handled according to CRADA guidelines. 

Additional Options

In addition to CRADAs, facility usage, and licensing agreements, federal labs use numerous other contractual or informal methods to facilitate T2. Depending on the agency or laboratory policy, some of the other mechanisms you may come across as you search the T2 Mechanisms database include: 

  • Alliances—These are informal tools that allow a federal lab to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with other organizations to pursue common technology interests.
  • Collegial Interchange, Conferences, and Publications—Collegial interchange is the informal and free exchange of information among colleagues; it is the basic mechanism of T2. 
  • Consulting Services—Consulting services to the laboratory are procured by means of a contract; and laboratory personnel consulting may be provided to industry as well with laboratory approval. 
  • Technical Assistance—Technical assistance allows the laboratory or facility to provide knowledge, specialized equipment, and facilities to be used for promoting U.S. competitiveness. 
  • Many other mechanisms are available, some on an agency-by-agency basis. These include tools such as clinical trial agreements, commercial evaluation license agreements, educational partnership agreements, material transfer agreements, Space Act Agreements, and many more.