The National Security Agency / Central Security Service drives one of the U.S. government’s leading research and development programs. They develop cutting-edge technologies to meet agency mission requirements. Their discoveries also contribute to the creation and improvement of many commercial products. Through their technology transfer program, NSA openly shares these technologies with private industry, academia, and other U.S. government agencies.
So the way the NSA works the patenting process – if you have an idea you fill out a disclosure form and you send that to the patent office at NSA. They’ll review that form and decide if they think it’s patentable if so you work with them to submit a formal application to the U.S. Patent Office. Once an inventor has a patented technology or a patent application pending on the technology, we engage with the inventor, try to determine what they have in support of their patent, whether that be a paper or a demo, source code.
So that we can in effect then take what they have found an appropriate partner for commercialization and then at times we will put the inventor together with the external stakeholder and…and the inventor ultimately helps us in working out an agreement to license their technologies. So the nice thing about working with the tech transfer team in these sorts of processes is they kind of do it all for you. You have to provide the technical expertise that they need to make a tech transfer happen but pretty much they handle all the parts of the process and make it really easy for you to work with them.
Types of Technology Transfer
There are four types of technology transfer.
1. Patent license agreements allow the industry to buy a license to commercialize specific NSA technologies.
PLA Benefits are –
- Commercializes federally-funded research.
- Saves industry and academia R&D.
- Maximized NSA R&D.
2. Educational partnership agreements establish formal relationships with academic institutions so that NSA personnel can teach or develop science and technology curricula.
EPA Benefits are –
- Produces future scientists, mathematicians & engineers.
- Relieves institutions of financial R&D burden.
- Creates unique learning opportunities.
3. Technology transfer sharing agreements let NSA share technology at no cost with other U.S. government agencies and finally
TTSA Benefits are –
- Creates simple, specific agreements.
- It allows easy technology transfer to other U.S. Govt. agencies.
4. Collaborative research and development agreements or CRADA leverage government and commercial expertise toward a mutual goal.
CRADA Benefits are –
- Provides a joint approach to solving specific problems
- Reduces R&D cost and time needed to achieve goals
- Creates unique learning opportunities
So they had a CRADA for about 10 years now with Intel Corporation and that CRADA has been very insightful for both the government and for Intel in terms of the government being able to get new insight into how microprocessor vendor develops its research program and commercial entity Intel has gained new insight into what motivates the government’s care about in security technology.
So FIXMO got to know NSA in the Tech Transfer program a little over two years ago the technology is an auto berry. NSA came up with the capability to detect changes and problems with Blackberry devices but that was really tailored towards just government use of those BlackBerry devices. And they knew that they needed to get this out to a broader audience they wanted to go into the private sector so they made it available via the Tech Transfer program. And FIXMO came in and negotiated an exclusive license to that technology and then they have taken it and basically created an entire business around that technology.
They also implemented a CRADA where they can share ideas they can get engineering support from us and we get to retain the IP if we develop. No funds are transferred it helps us put clearances in place, it helps to share information and it facilitates new ideas. The CRADA”s really been a great, great vehicle to complement the Tech Transfer. They really gave us a jump-start into the federal market and really change the direction of the company. It’s also helped NSA from an Information Assurance Directorate perspective.
They need to get capability out to protect the critical infrastructure. And if its technology that’s built by NSA, supported by NSA, they can’t really give that very easily to the private sector so moving it through the Tech Transfer program and let us commercialize it actually gets the capability into the private sector and the public sector. So it’s turned into a very positive relationship for both organizations.
Why Transfer Technology?
The public gets the benefit of NSA’s dollars have gone into the research to date, paired with the commercial industry’s vision of what the public is looking for and needs in terms of technologies. It’s important for NSA to share its technology, one because it’s legally required. There’s a tech transfer statute that requires government employees that agencies to identify intellectual property’s potential value and to transfer it. It also helped the agency because of the money that we receive from the licensing fees and royalties we can use to further research and development. There are certainly some financial benefits that inventors may realize as a result of the tech transfer of their intellectual property. But I think myself in most of my researchers realized a great sense of pride and satisfaction and they see something outside the normal boundary of our campus containing their intellectual property.
They can say I made that. Well, the Tech Transfer office has been exceptional to work with. All professionals, they do understand they sit between NSA and they understand how NSA has to do business and the private sector and what the private sector needs to be successful. It’s a unique role you don’t find it very often that they’ve been very good at bridging that difference between the NSA, the Intelligence Community, the DoD, and the private sector.
This brings this article to an end. The information and images which is represented above are taken from the National Security Agency (NSA) Youtube Channel. They have all the reserved edit rights for this article.