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Department of Defense (DoD) laboratories are sources of new ideas and technologies that can provide military and capability advantages to the warfighter. However, for that advantage to be realized, these new ideas and technologies almost always must be transferred from the laboratory to industry or other organizations capable of developing products or services. Federal organizations have made efforts to accelerate the transfer of research findings and outputs to companies or other organizations. Still, there is not a universally accepted definition of successful technology transfer or guidance for monitoring transfer that can be applied across multiple laboratories or research organizations. This report describes a method to help the DoD monitor and track technology transfer from laboratories to customers and assess the success of efforts that may lead to capability improvements. Our method maps efforts associated with technology transfer into a logic model framework that describes the laboratory operations and can be used to create a definition of "successful technology transfer" that may be applied across the Defense Laboratory Enterprise. Our method also provides guidance for developing measures for monitoring successful technology transfer.

Key Findings

Monitoring Technology Transfers

  • The key element of successful technology transfer is that program efforts must lead to a product that could lead to new military operations, changes in existing operations or procedures, or direct use by the warfighter.
  • Logic models can help the Department of Defense monitor and track technology transfer from laboratories to customers and assess efforts that may lead to capability improvements.
  • Our method describes the laboratory operations to help create a definition of "successful technology transfer" that may be applied across the Defense Laboratory Enterprise.

The research described in this report was sponsored by the director of Acquisition Resources and Analysis, Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisitions, Technology, and Logistics and conducted within the Acquisition and Technology Policy Center of the RAND National Defense Research Institute.

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