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NIST outlines potential 'tech transfer' policy changes

Draft paper outlines how NIST hopes to modernize policies governing commercialization of technologies developed with federal funding.

Animal scientists working on federally funded projects may want to review a new draft green paper from the National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST), according to a recent post in the American Society of Animal Science's (ASAS) "Taking Stock" newsletter.

ASAS said the paper outlines how NIST hopes to modernize the policies that govern the commercialization of technologies developed with federal funding. According to NIST, the proposed policy changes are in response to the changing research and development (R&D) landscape.

The federal government invests more than $150 billion annually in R&D, NIST said, and two main laws -- the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act and the Bayh-Dole Act -- govern how technology developed through federal funding can be commercialized. These acts were passed in the 1980s, so NIST is seeking to modernize their policies and improve the return on federal investments, according to the "Taking Stock" post.

Proposed changes include:

* Clarifying requirements for the domestic manufacture of products resulting from federal R&D;

* Authorizing new and expanded mechanisms for creating partnership agreements and nonprofit foundations that support federal agencies;

* Allowing the limited use of R&D funding for intellectual property (IP) protection;

* Establishing technology entrepreneurship programs at federal R&D agencies;

* Clarifying and updating conflict-of-interest requirements to stimulate greater partnering between the private sector and researchers at federal laboratories and federally funded universities;

* Developing a modern, easy-to-use, federal IP data reporting system to more effectively track IP and streamline regulations;

* Launching a data portal that would provide the public with easy access to the IP and other R&D assets, and

* Better tracking the outcomes and impacts from R&D investments.

The public may submit comments on the report until Jan. 9, 2019 (note, however, that due to a lapse in government funding, the commenting webpage and almost all NIST-affiliated websites will be unavailable until further notice). A final version of the green paper is expected in early 2019.

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