Ongoing Open Government Activities

NASA’s Technology Transfer Activities
Sharing NASA’s Inventions with the Nation

transparency | participation | collaboration

NASA transfers technology to the private sector and state and local governments by actively seeking licensees. More than 1,600 such technology transfer successes have been documented in NASA’s Spinoff Magazine over the years, which include commercial applications in health and medicine, transportation, public safety, consumer goods, agriculture, environmental resources, computer technology, manufacturing, and energy conversion and use. Licensing terms are negotiated on a case-by-case basis, although terms of use are defined as narrowly as practical in every case. We are experimenting with new ways of licensing government owned patents, and in 2008 entered into an agreement with Ocean Tomo and successfully commercialized federally funded technology via a live-auction process.

NASA Spinoff Database

Spinoff is NASA’s annual premier publication featuring successfully commercialized NASA technology. Since 1976, Spinoff has featured between 40 and 50 of these commercial products annually. Spinoff maintains a database of every technology published since its inception.

RSS Feed of NASA Technologies Available for Licensing rss_licensing.html

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and it is a way to subscribe to online information. The RSS feed for the Technologies Available for Licensing program was part of a multi-agency effort including NASA, NIH, NIST, USDA, and DOE. The effort is to create databases that can be placed in a common portal to help foster greater visibility of federal research and development that can be made available for use by others under a licensing agreement, under a belief that effective and open communication is vital for successful technology transfer. This RSS feed provides a link to NASA technologies available for licensing. The link provides the technology patent number, patent expiration date, an abstract regarding the specific technology, and point of contact with phone and e-mail address. The feed will soon be accessible on

The National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 and a series of subsequent laws identify the transfer of Federally-owned or originated technology as a national priority and an important mission of each Federal Agency. Technology transfer promotes commercial activity, encourages economic growth, and stimulates innovation in business and commerce.

Legislation specifically requires that each Federal Agency have a formal technology transfer program. The legislation (such as the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980) gives NASA both the authority to transfer technology as well as protect the Government’s rights to its inventions. NASA generally seeks to protect those technologies having the greatest likelihood of being commercially applied. There are also cases where NASA does not apply protections, making technology available for free and unrestricted to anyone having an interest in its application.

NASA’s available technologies number in the thousands and span a broad spectrum. Many are so generic that they can be applied in almost any key industrial sector. NASA endeavors to make the public aware of the opportunity to take advantage of our technologies through our participation in conferences, trade shows, license auctions, and print publications.

NASA technologies available for license, as well as those technologies NASA elects to leave unprotected, can be searched at the NASA Techfinder portal. The collaborative NASA Techfinder database is compiled based on reports submitted by the Agency’s inventors and catalogs technologies available for either licensing or using. There is also a compilation of success stories on TechFinder.

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine is a monthly publication that includes technologies available for licensing, technologies available at no cost, and NASA’s technology needs for which NASA is seeking dual-use technology development partners. NASA Spinoff Magazine is an annual publication featuring about 50 NASA technology transfer successes in each issue. NASA Technology Innovation Magazine is a quarterly publication focused on applications of NASA technologies in specific industrial sectors. It provides information on NASA’s technology needs and associated partnering opportunities and successes, as well as on NASA’s partnering successes. When we showcase our technologies at professional conferences and industrial trade shows, we tailored our portfolio to the interests of the particular profession or industry. At these events we invite participation, responding to real-time and follow up inquiry. Additionally, we have created an RSS feed of our technologies available for licensing to make it easier for potential partners to stay informed on new developments.

In 2008 Innovative Partnerships Program (IPP) Office at Goddard Space Flight Center was seeking a new paradigm on how to license its patent portfolio and entered into an agreement with Ocean Tomo for public auctions of NASA patents. The regulations governing licensing of Government owned IP seemed at odds with the auction format, but the Goddard IPP Office devised a solution compatible with federal patent licensing. The solution was to license the patents to Ocean Tomo prior to the auction, and allow Ocean Tomo to auction the right to transfer their license to the winning bidder. October 30, 2008, Ocean Tomo’s eighth live-auction and their largest one to date with over 500 in attendance, successfully sold a government patent license through a public auction of intellectual property.

How This Fits into Open Government
Technology transfer promotes commercial activity, encourages economic growth, and stimulates innovation in business and commerce. NASA’s transferrable technologies are made open to allow innovations that benefit the public and stimulate economic development. Commercialization of NASA technologies via public auction increases the value of NASA technologies by putting those technologies to work in the economy sooner and in a mechanism more companies are familiar with. The auction format fosters a completely transparent license transaction since the license terms and final sales price are public, and this agreement can be used for other government agencies.

Open Government Goals
Three Months
Support and facilitate the emerging commercial space community by making it easier for NASA sponsored technologies to be found and commercially applied.
Successful completion of first public auction involving multiple NASA Field Centers.
Six Months
A new NASA organization, Office of the Chief Technologist, will come into existence at the beginning of FY 2011, and have greater and broader authority than predecessor organizations regarding technology development partnerships as well as transfer out of NASA sponsored technologies.
Public auction format accessible by all NASA Field Centers under standardized process and terms.
One to Two Years
Anticipated increased resources will enhance reach and impact of Office of Chief Technologist’s mission, to include maturation and development of technologies that will provide an enlarged based of candidate inventions available for commercial application.
Assist in the utilization of a public auction format in use across all Federal Laboratories with Auction Company providing a centralized integration and bundling of government IP portfolios from across agencies.
Useful Links
NASA Searchable Databases
NASA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR)
NASA TechFinderPortal
NASA Patent Abstract Bibliography
NASA @ Home and City

› Back To Top NASA HomePage Last Updated: April 26, 2010
Page Editor: Jason Townsend
NASA Official: Kristine Mclaughlin
NASA Information on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
Budgets, Strategic Plans and Accountability Reports
Equal Employment Opportunity Data Posted Pursuant to the No Fear Act
Information-Dissemination Policies and Inventories
Freedom of Information Act
Privacy Policy & Important Notices
NASA Advisory Council
Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel
Inspector General Hotline
Office of the Inspector General
NASA Communications Policy
Contact NASA
Site Map
Open Government at NASA
Help and Preferences