Science & Technology Corner

U.S. Department of Defense to Enable Entrepreneurs to Accelerate Technology Transfer Outside of Laboratories

Transferring technologies from government laboratories into the civilian marketplace is being accelerated by the U. S. Department of Defense (DOD) as directed by an Executive Order issued in October 2012. As an initial experiment for the demonstration of new business processes, the DOD selected the Air Force Research Laboratory's (AFRL’s) Information Directorate in Rome, New York, for commercialization of their technology products identified as having dual-use (military-commercial) market potential. These Air Force inventions will now be available for license by New York’s innovators and entrepreneurs through a state-wide competition over the coming months. The entrepreneurial teams that are selected as winners of the competition will then participate in a follow-on startup acceleration program called the New York Furnace Technology Transfer Accelerator (NY Furnace).

The aim of the NY Furnace program is to form, fund, and launch between five- to- ten new startups that will license and successfully commercialize one or more Air Force technologies through 2015. To effectively launch the effort, the DOD partnered with Arizona State University’s (ASU’s) Pracademic Center of Excellence in Technology Transfer (PACE/T2), the developers of the Furnace system, to support the transfer and commercialization of discoveries from the country’s top research laboratories. Since ASU’s implementation of the Furnace system, there have been 14 new startup companies that have formed thanks to unused technologies derived from a number of public universities and private healthcare groups.

“Beyond their initial development for our servicemen and women, many technologies developed by the Department of Defense laboratories possess strong commercial potential, but end up remaining within the labs due to limited means to launch these discoveries into the marketplace.” says Dr. John Fischer, Director of the Defense Laboratories in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. “This technology transfer competition provides technologies to existing companies and entrepreneurs, taking taxpayer funded technologies outside the lab and potentially, providing new solutions to the warfighter.”

Cutting-edge technologies in a number of areas such as communication, cyber security, and device controls developed by the Air Force will be made available for entrepreneurs to draft a commercialization proposal. Winning teams may then receive the support of the state’s leading economic development organizations by receiving one of several NY Furnace seed grants. Technologies will also be made available for license to existing companies in aerospace, defense and other industries in New York and across the U.S.

“We are thrilled that our lab has been selected for this exciting pilot project. We have some of the country’s top scientists and engineers working on our campus and I am eager to invite New York’s entrepreneurial community to take a closer look at some of our most promising inventions.” says George Duchak, Director of the AFRL Information Directorate.

AFRL’s Information Directorate, located in Rome, NY, primarily develops cyber/information technologies for aerospace command and control. The lab also oversees the development of a broad spectrum of technologies that include information fusion and exploitation, communications and networking, collaborative environments, modeling and simulation, defensive information warfare and intelligence information systems.

The DOD’s NY Furnace Accelerator is also attracting the support of a wide range of local, regional, and state-wide economic development organizations, colleges and universities, startup incubators, accelerators, angel investors, and venture capitalists.

“This initiative empowers our community of innovators and serial entrepreneurs to envision commercial applications for these technologies that our colleagues in the Air Force may have never intended.” says Mary Carol Chruscicki, Executive Director of the CYBER New York Alliance. “For example, one of the technologies being showcased is self-repairing computer code that protects web-enabled devices against known and unknown cyber threats. Clearly, with the recent ‘Heartbleed’ password encryption bug, along with other similar cyber threats facing consumers and businesses alike, there are obvious commercial applications for this particular technology.”

“Ultimately, we’re confident that many of our community’s entrepreneurs will have the right business model, experience, and tenacity to bring these technologies out of the lab and into the market.” adds Frank Hoke, Director of the Air Force Lab’s Office of Research and Technology Applications. “We are also betting that many of these new ventures will create new products and potentially expand the industrial base providing new, future capabilities.”

Entrepreneurs are invited to view the available Air Force technologies and submit a commercialization proposal by visiting http://www.furnacenetwork.com/regions/furnace-newyork/.

There are also more than 6,000 licensable DOD patents. Learn more here

Updated 5/27/14
Dept of Defense US Air Force OASAALT RDECOM ONR NRL US Air Force Joint Chiefs of Staff Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Force Health Protection & Readiness Defense Threat Reduction Agency Missile Defense Agency Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization Chemical & Biological Defense Program