NSA Technology Transfer

Narrator - The National Security Agency/Central Security Service drives one of the U.S. Government's leading research and development programs. We develop cutting-edge technologies to meet Agency mission requirements. Our discoveries also contribute to the creation and improvement of many commercial products. Through our Technology Transfer Program, NSA openly shares these technologies with private industry, academia, and other U.S. Government agencies.

David - So, the way that NSA works the patenting process... If you have an idea, you fill out a disclosure form and you send that to the patent office within NSA. And they'll review that form and decide if they think it's patentable. If so, you work with them to submit a formal application to the U.S. Patent Office.

Marian - Once an inventor has a patented technology, or a patent application pending on a technology, we engage with the inventor, try to determine what they have in support of their patent, whether that be a paper, a demo, source code, so that we can effect then, take what they have, find an appropriate partner for commercialization, and then at times we will put the inventor together with the external stakeholder. And the inventor ultimately helps us in working out an agreement to license their technologies.

David - So, the nice thing about working with the Tech Transfer team in these sorts of processes is they kind of do it all for you. You have to provide the technical expertise that they need to make a tech transfer happen, but pretty much they handle all the parts of the process and make it really easy for you to work with them.

Narrator - There are four types of technology transfer. Patent license agreements allow industry to buy a license to commercialize specific NSA technologies. Educational partnership agreements establish formal relationships with academic institutions so that NSA personnel can teach or develop science and technology curricula. Technology transfer sharing agreements let NSA share technology at no cost with other U.S. government agencies. And finally, collaborative research and development agreements, or CRADA, leverage government and commercial expertise toward a mutual goal.

George - So, we've had a CRADA for about ten years now with Intel Corporation. And that CRADA has been very insightful for both the government and for Intel in terms of the government being able to get new insight into how a microprocessor vendor develops its research program; and the commercial entity, Intel, has gained new insight into what motivates the government's care abouts in security technology.

Bruce - So, FIXMO got to know NSA and the Tech Transfer Program a little bit over two years ago, about two years ago. The technology is Autoberry. NSA came up with a capability to detect changes and problems with Blackberry devices, but that was really tailored towards just government use of those Blackberry devices. And they knew that they needed to get this out to a broader audience; they wanted to go into the private sector, so they made it available via the Tech Transfer Program. And FIXMO came in and negotiated an exclusive license to that technology and then we've taken it and basically created an entire business around that technology. We also implemented a CRADA where they can share ideas, they can get engineering support from us, and we get to retain the IP if we develop. No funds are transferred. It helps us put clearances in place, it helps us share information, and it facilitates new ideas. The CRADA has really been a great, great vehicle to complement the tech transfer. It really gave us a jump start into the federal market and really changed the direction of the company. It's also helped NSA from an Information Assurance Directorate perspective. They need to get capability out to protect the critical infrastructure and if it's technology that's built by NSA, supported by NSA, they can't really give that very easily to the private sector. So, moving it through the Tech Transfer Program and letting us commercialize it actually gets the capability into the private sector and the public sector. So, it's turned into a, you know a, very positive relationship for both organizations. The public gets the benefit of NSA's dollars that have gone into the research to date, paired with the commercial industry's vision of what the public is looking for and needs in terms of technologies.

Teisha -It's important for NSA to share its technology one, because it's legally required. There's a tech transfer statute that requires government employees and agencies to identify intellectual property of potential value and to transfer it. It also helps the Agency because the money that we receive from the licensing fees and royalties, we can use to further our research and development. There are certainly some financial benefits that inventors may realize as a result of tech transfer of their intellectual property, but I think myself and most of my researchers realize a great sense of pride and satisfaction when they see something outside of the normal boundary of our campus containing their intellectual property. They can say, "I made that."

Bruce - Well the Tech Transfer office has been exceptional to work with. All professional, they do understand. They sit between NSA and they understand how NSA has to do business and the private sector, and what the private sector needs to be successful. It's a unique role, you don't find it very often, but they've been very good at bridging that difference between the NSA, Intelligence Community, the DoD, and the private sector.

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