To complete my summary of things learned at the Space Foundation’s Space Commerce small business workshop, I’ll finish up, as they did, with opportunities to be had from the NASA Technology Transfer program (TTP). Again, this is more applicable to those of you working with or for a small technology firm looking to build a better mousetrap. The goal of the TTP is to share inventions developed in the course of putting spacecraft (and humans) into space in return for a small licensing fee and/or percentage of the profit.
You Mean I Can Use NASA Hardware?
The technology transfer process is pretty straightforward. As depicted in the banner image below, all you do is search for a technology that interests you; submit a license application and commercialization plan; work with NASA to work out the terms under which you will use the license; sign the paperwork; and get to work using the technology as you described it in your application.
There are very few situations where a company would have exclusive license to use a particular technology; however, there are other types of licenses that companies can pay to get limited access to an invention for a particular application. If you don’t believe that space technologies can have practical benefits for everyday applications here on Earth, I strongly recommend you check out the NASA Spinoff site. Even if you find nothing useful for your company to use in building its gadget, you might at least gain a renewed respect for the space program!
It’s also helpful to know what sorts of resources are available to businesses in the U.S. (sorry, international readers, I’m not 100% certain whether non-U.S. companies are eligible, but I’m looking into it).