The federal government offers several programs that connect entrepreneurs to technology developed in government labs:
The Ben Franklin Technology Center of Southeastern Pennsylvania helps small and midsized companies tap into the resources of Uncle Sam's research labs through the Federal Technology Access Program (FedTAP).
FedTAP is a free program designed for companies seeking short-term help (five to 10 days) with a problem (i.e., trying to develop a new medical device but not having an in-house engineering staff) or for entrepreneurs seeking new technology to improve a current product.
The Ben Franklin Center facilitates face-to-face meetings or videoconferences between entrepreneurs and lab personnel, and helps with licensing agreements and other documentation requirements. For details, call (215) 382-0370.
NASA's technology transfer program, the Commercial Technology Network, consists of 10 field centers (federal labs). At five of the centers, NASA has partnered with community organizations to establish technology incubators for small-business owners. There are also six regional technology transfer centers and one national center geared toward helping small businesses access NASA's technology. Visit NASA's Web page at http://nctn.hq.nasa.gov/nctn/ and check out TechTracs (under Technology Resources), which lists all technology sponsored or produced by NASA. For more information, call (800) 678-6882.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)offers several ways entrepreneurs can take advantage of federal technology. The Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) helps small and midsized manufacturing businesses with technology problems by offering the services of internal experts, contracted consultants or federal laboratory personnel. MEP delivers its services in part through a network of centers in all 50 states and Puerto Rico; call (800) MEP-4MFG.
NIST's Advanced Technology Program allows small businesses to compete for financial support to develop commercial applications for their own or federal technology. Call (800) ATP-FUND.
NIST's Laboratory Research and Services program allows small businesses to attend seminars, exchange correspondence with federal researchers and conduct on-site consultations to find solutions to their technology problems.
The Department of Agriculture helps small businesses access its technology through the Agricultural Research Service Office of Technology Transfer. Five geographically dispersed technology coordinators facilitate the appropriate research or transfer agreement. Visit the USDA's Web site at (http://ott.arsusda.gov/home.html), or call (202) 720-3973.