Friday, November 6, 2009

Clever Clara Seeks to Close Research Gaps at NIST with SBIR TT

You've all heard the cliched proclamation: "I'm from the government and I'm here to help you!" Rarely is it actually the truth. I have just encountered one case where, apparently, it is!

Her name is Clara Asmail. She's the SBIR Program Manager at the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST). She's charming, engaging, and absolutely brilliant. A multiple degreed physicist with an entrepreneurial bent. She'll talk technical with the best of you, while being a very helpful and competent administrator. A rare combination.

I attended Clara's presentation at the National SBIR Conference this week on what she's been doing to close research gaps that have prevented NIST funded technologies from achieving commercialization. She calls the program, initiated in 2008, SBIR TT (for Tech Transfer). The NIST SBIR website has a FACT SHEET to explain this innovative approach to fostering innovation.

Essentially, if you can show how you'll close the gap in some NIST research, Clara will give you a FREE non-exclusive research license to use the NIST technology in your project. On top of that, she'll fund your project with NIST SBIR money! Just as with any other SBIR project, rights to the results of the project are yours. And you get access to NIST personnel, facilities, and knowledge regarding the invention. What a deal!

Ann Eskesen was at the presentation too, and she called Clara's approach "The cleverest thing she's seen in thirty years!" Quite a statement from the lady who's seen it all, SBIR-wise!

NIST has just opened their FY2010 solicitation. See a quick list of the new NIST Regular (R) and Tech-Transfer (TT) opportunities HERE. Proposals are due by January 22nd.

We've heard rumors that there is some progress being made on SBIR Reauthorization, with the Senate offering a new compromise bill to the House. There's actually some hope that we'll get this resolved by the end of the year. I'm standing by my predictions for how it will all shake out. If you missed my prognostications, see them HERE. When we have details, I'll let you know.

And finally, we're saddened by the deplorable tragedy at our Texas' Fort Hood yesterday. The stress this incident has added to our brave soldiers and their families is immeasurable. Please join me in contributing to a phone-card initiative for helping Fort Hood soldiers communicate with their worried families.

A special website "Operation Call Home" has been established by an Austin radio station to accept donations for phone-cards. Here's the link: Thanks for your support.


Carl Nelson said...

Fred, why is a license required to use technology already in the public domain?

- Fred Patterson - said...

Good question, Carl. I asked Clara for clarification, and here's what she said:

"Of course no license is needed for public domain technologies. But since the background technologies offered within the NIST SBIR-TT include both those which are patented and those which are not, we offer a license as appropriate to the particular research subtopic.

For example, out of the total of nine “TT” subtopics in the current NIST SBIR FY10 Solicitation, only five reference patented technologies and therefore only those five subtopics incorporate language regarding the need for a research license."