DC Dispatch

DC Dispatch - July 14, 2017

Broad Energy Policy Bill (Re)Introduced in the Senate

(Includes earlier language on tech transfer)

Senators Murkowski (R-AK) and Cantwell (D-WA) reintroduced legislation that is a “successor to their broad, bipartisan legislation from the previous Congress and was placed directly on the Senate Calendar for expedited floor consideration.”  From Sen. Murkowski’s press release, “[T]he new bill [S.1460, The Energy and Natural Resources Act of 2017], builds on the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015, which included priorities from 80 Senators and passed the Senate with 85 votes. That bill fell just short in a bicameral conference with the House of Representatives at the end of last year, but provided an excellent starting point for Murkowski and Cantwell’s bipartisan efforts in this Congress.”  See the bill text here.  It takes some looking to find, but under Title IV (Accountability), Subtitle C (Innovation and Office of Science), Part 1 (starting on page 424 of the bill), there is some language on tech transfer and commercialization that comes from the earlier bill.  Among the more relevant (to tech transfer) components (all from the 2015 bill) include:

  • Section 4201 (inclusion of early-stage technology demonstration in authorized technology transfer activities), which states that “[T]he Secretary shall permit the directors of the National Laboratories to use funds authorized to support technology transfer within the Department to carry out early stage and pre-commercial technology demonstration activities to remove technology barriers that limit private-sector interest and demonstrate potential commercial applications of any research and technologies arising from National Laboratory activities.’’
  • Section 4205 (technology transfer and transitions assessment), which states that “not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, and as often as the Secretary determines to be necessary thereafter, the Secretary shall transmit to the appropriate committees of Congress a report that includes recommended changes to the policy of the Department and legislative changes to section 1001 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (42 U.S.C. 16391) to improve the ability of the Department to successfully transfer new energy technologies to the private sector.”
  • Section 4206 (agreements for commercializing technology pilot program), which states “[T]he Secretary shall carry out the Agreements for Commercializing Technology pilot program of the Department, as announced by the Secretary on December 8, 2011, in accordance with this section.”

(Original source: Sen. Murkowski’s website)

NDAA Working Its Way Through House and Senate

(Initial Senate bill notes tech transfer-related language)

The House is currently considering the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), “the sweeping annual bill that sets policy for the Department of Defense and the National Nuclear Security Administration.”  From a blurb by the American Institute of Physics (AIP), “[V]iewed as a must-pass measure, the bill always attracts a large number of amendments; this year, members have filed over 390 amendments for consideration on the House floor. The House Armed Services Committee approved the bill on June 28 on a vote of 60–1. The Senate Armed Services Committee advanced its version on the same day by a unanimous vote. The text of the Senate bill is not yet public, but a summary provided by the committee, which contains a section on ‘Driving Innovation in R&D,’ is available here.”  On the link, the relevant section is on page 8, and includes “Expands the use of Other Transactions Authority and Experimental Procurement Authority as methods for entering into research agreements … [and] Expands DOD technology prize authority to allow non-cash prizes and to allow the government to jointly fund prizes with private sector organizations.”  (Original sources: AIP website, Senate Armed Services Committee website)

House Science Committee Approves SBIR/STTR Bill

The House Science, Space and Technology (SST) Committee approved the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer Improvements Act of 2017 [HR 2763] in late June.  From the committee’s press release, Chairman Smith (R-TX) noted that “[T]oday, our committee approved [the bill], which makes key improvements to the SBIR and STTR programs.  These critical programs have helped to spur small business innovation across multiple sectors of our economy.  The $3 billion that these programs award to small businesses annually helps recipients further R&D to create new products and technologies that create thousands of American jobs.  This legislation updates these programs to match our ever evolving business environment.”  See the bill text here. (Original source: House SST Committee website)

House Panel on Materials Science Commercialization

Two subcommittees within the House Science, Space and Technology Committee held a joint hearing recently on the topic of materials science R&D and technology commercialization.  You can find a link to the hearing website here, including a 2+ hour video of the hearing, hearing charter, and witness written testimony.  From the charter, “[T]he purpose of the hearing is to review federally funded research in materials science, and highlight the broad economic impact of basic research in this area.  New materials can improve the generation, storage, and use of energy, reduce the environmental impact and improve safety of energy production technologies, and provide the foundation for new technologies in medicine, transportation, manufacturing, protective systems, and computing.  The hearing will also examine the benefits of user facilities, science prize competitions, and public-private partnerships to speed the development of advanced materials.”  AIP provides a summary of the conversation and comments from the hearing.  (Original sources: House SST Committee website, AIP website)

Global Innovation Index 2017 Released

(U.S. ranks #4 overall) 

The 2017 Global Innovation Index (GII) was released in mid-June.  The annual report is co-authored by Cornell University, INSEAD, and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).  From the GII press release, “[S]witzerland, Sweden, the Netherlands, the USA and the UK are the world’s most-innovative countries, while a group of nations, including India, Kenya and Viet Nam, are outperforming their development-level peers …  Key findings show the rise of India as an emerging innovation center in Asia, high innovation performance in Sub-Saharan Africa relative to development, and an opportunity to improve innovation capacity in Latin America and the Caribbean.  Each year, the GII surveys some 130 economies using dozens of metrics, from patent filings to education spending, providing decision makers a high-level look at the innovative activity that increasingly drives economic and social growth.” Find the GII main site here, with links to the 2017 report and related data, including links to in-depth country reports. (Original source: GII website) 

NEW From the National Science Foundation  

National Science Foundation (NSF) Report No. 17-318, Federal Science and Engineering Obligations to Universities and Colleges Declined 2% in FY 2015, dated July 7, 2017, notes that “[I]n FY 2015, federal agencies obligated $30.5 billion to 1,016 academic institutions for science and engineering (S&E) activities.  This represents a 2% decrease in current dollars from the $31.1 billion obligated to 1,003 academic institutions in FY 2014. … After adjusting for inflation, federal S&E obligations to academic institutions decreased $0.9 billion (3%) between FY 2014 and FY 2015, following a $1.1 billion increase (4%) from FY 2013 to FY 2014. … Collectively, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), NSF, and the Department of Defense (DOD) provided 85% of all federally funded academic S&E obligations in FY 2015.  Of these agencies, HHS accounted for 56% of all federally funded obligations; NSF, 17%; and DOD, 11%.  The Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Department of Energy (DOE), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) provided most of the remaining academic S&E total (13%).”  (Original source: NSF website) 

Economic Impacts of University Licensing

(Study by BIO and AUTM)

BIO (Biotechnology Innovation Organization), in conjunction with the Association of University Technical Managers (AUTM), released a study on the economic impacts of university licensing.  From the BIO website, “[T]he report, The Economic Contribution of University/Nonprofit Inventions in the United States: 1996- 2015, documents the sizeable return that US taxpayers receive on their investment in federally funded research.  It shows that, during a 20-year period, academic patents and the subsequent licensing to industry bolstered US industry gross output by up to $1.33 trillion, US GDP by up to $591 billion, and supported up to 4,272,000 person years of employment.”  (Original source: BIO website)

Spotlight on Member Activities

(NASA and NIH) 

NASA Launches ATLAS Patent Licensing System

NASA recently launched an automated system to streamline technology patent licensing.  From the press release, “NASA has developed a new system to streamline the way the agency licenses its technology patents, making the transfer of NASA-patented innovations to industry easier than ever before.  The Automated Technology Licensing Application System (ATLAS) provides prospective licensees a streamlined, centralized online tool for applying for any one of the more than 1,400 innovations NASA currently has available for licensing.  Through the licensing of NASA patents, many technologies originating in America’s space program make their way into the commercial marketplace every year. … NASA’s patent portfolio is searchable and offers technologies in fields that range from aeronautics and propulsion to electronics, materials, sensors, instrumentation, and a broad array of other disciplines.  ATLAS guides the applicant through every step of the licensing application process, gathers basic information about the company, business goals, and potential target markets.”  Follow the links in the press release for a related YouTube video.  (Original source: NASA website)

NIH Article on Shortening the Time From Idea to Product

Three National Institutes of Health (NIH) authors, including one from the Office of Technology Transition (OTT), have published an article titled A Guide to Time Lag and Time Lag Shortening Strategies in Oncology-Based Drug Development, addressing one of the “ongoing challenges for academic, biotech and pharma organizations involved in oncology-related research and development [--] how to help scientists be more effective in transforming new scientific ideas into products that improve patients’ lives.” From the abstract, “[D]ecreasing the time required between bench work and translational study would allow potential benefits of innovation to reach patients more quickly.  In this study, the time required to translate cancer-related biomedical research into clinical practice is examined for the most common cancer cases, including breast, lung and prostate cancer. …  Reasons for the long ‘time lag’ in cancer drug development were examined in detail, and key opinion leaders were interviewed to formulate suggestions for helping new drugs reach from bench to bed side more quickly.”  (Original source: NIH OTT website)


  • Note: The DC Dispatch is a periodic update of selected items of interest to the FLC and the technology transfer community (i.e., current legislation, trends, reports, policy and other developments potentially affecting technology transfer or related activities) designed to keep the community informed of relevant issues on a timely basis.  Information is gleaned directly from a variety of sources (newsletters, email alerts, websites, direct participation at events from the FLC DC Liaison’s office, etc.), with original sources, contacts and links provided.
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