Tech Transfer & Commercialization


A major aim of the National Nanotechnology Initiative is to maximize the return on the Federal Government's investment in nanoscale R&D. Therefore, communicating with the business community on current research activities, partnership opportunities, and available resources is a high priority.

To facilitate nanotechnology R&D, Government infrastructure is available to researchers through a number of nanotechnology centers, including the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network, the Network for Computational Nanotechnology, the DOE Nanoscale Science Research Centers, the Naval Research Laboratory's Institute of Nanoscience, and through the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. For a full list, see NNI Centers, Networks, and Facilities.

In addition to these facilities, many universities are willing to work with businesses in research collaborations. Contact a university's technology transfer office directly for information on possible collaborations.

Mechanisms of NNI Interaction with Industry and States

An important objective of the NNI is developing interactions with industry and state organizations in order to support nanotechnology development and technology transfer. The Nanomanufacturing, Industry Liaison, and Innovation (NILI) Working Group surveyed NNI member agencies to create a central list of the different agency programs that work toward this objective, and to detail the current or planned activities that support this goal of the NILI charter.

View the full survey of Mechanisms of NNI Interaction with Industry and States.

Technology Transfer

Moving technology from laboratories to the marketplace is the challenge following discovery. The Federal Government has many resources to foster such technology transfer.

The Robert C. Byrd National Technology Transfer Center (NTTC) is a full-service technology-management center that helps organizations identify commercially promising discoveries, market them to American industry, and build partnerships to turn inventions into products. Congress established the NTTC in 1989. Guided by a mission to aid economic development through matching Federally funded research with U.S. private industry, the NTTC offers a complete line of products and services enabling American businesses to find technologies, facilities, and world-class researchers within the Federal labs and universities, to help them remain on the cutting edge of innovation.

The Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer (FLC) is the nationwide network of Federal laboratories that provides the forum to develop strategies and opportunities for linking the laboratory mission technologies and expertise with the marketplace. The FLC was organized in 1974 and formally chartered by the Federal Technology Transfer Act of 1986 to promote and to strengthen technology transfer nationwide. Today, more than 700 major Federal laboratories and centers and their parent departments and agencies are FLC members.

The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) continually looks for opportunities to partner with private sector businesses, other Federal agencies, state and local governments, universities, and its customers. These partnerships are designed to augment research programs, expedite research results to the private sector, exchange information and knowledge, stimulate new business and economic development, enhance U.S. trade, preserve the environment, and improve the quality of life for all Americans.

National user facilities promote important interactions among industry, academic, and government researchers. These facilities are an important mechanism through which nanotechnology can find its way into commercial applications.

Additional Resources

Patent information

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has an Electronic Business Center to allow for online searches of approved and pending patents. Patent searches in nanotechnology are facilitated by a new nanotechnology classification. The main website of USPTO has useful information on intellectual property law, as well as guidance on the patent filing process.

Federal Report on Technology Transfer

Federal Legislation Related to Technology Transfer

See also Funding Opportunities