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Who, What and Where to find Technology

originally published in "Computers and Automation" magazine

*   Somewhere, someone has just the information your company needs.  Here is how
    to get it!


     Ninety-six percent of all industry is classified as "small business" by the US
Department of Commerce.  Small businesses do not participate to the same degree as
large businesses in programs transferring technology to enhance national productivity.
Technology transfers, at the level of small business in the United States, are few and far
between.  Most small businesses cannot afford to search for new technology

     Most of governmental research and development are concentrated on military and
space applications.  The military patent portfolio represents two-thirds of all patents (for
technology) held by the federal government.  This potential - estimated to be worth $300
to $700 billion - is laying fallow.   Many items with potential application in commercial
endeavors exist in whole or part.  Lets look at places where information about available
technology and solutions may be found.

High-tech sources

     NASA, the National Aeronautic and Space Administration, is perhaps the first
government agency that comes to mind when discussing technology.  They are authorized
to transfer technology by public law and their objective is to ensure that developments
resulting from governmental-sponsored civilian aerospace research are made available to
the widest extent practical for the nation's benefit.  For more information contact:

     Technology Transfer Division
     Code ET-6
     NASA Headquarters
     Washington, D.C.  20546

     NASA participates with the National Technology Transfer Center based in Wheeling
WV.  The Center provides access to information available from the federal laboratory
system.  Callers are directed to one on one contact with federal scientists and engineers
most likely to have answers to industry related questions.  The Center can be contacted
at no cost to the caller by dialing 800-678-6882. For more information contact:

     National Technology Transfer Center
     Wheeling Jesuit College
     316 Washington Avenue
     Wheeling, WV   26003
     (304) 243-2455   FAX (304) 243-2463

     The National Technical Information Service, a section of the Department of
Commerce, is authorized to make federally-sponsored technical information readily
available to government, business and industrial applicants.     For more information contact:

     5285 Port Royal Road
     Room 1008
     Springfield, VA 22161

     The National Institute of Science and Technology, US Department of Commerce,
works under several authorizations to make critically evaluated scientific and technical
reference data generally available to scientists, engineers and the public.      For more
information contact:

     Office of Standard Reference Data
     National Institute of Science and Technology
     US Department of Commerce
     Washington, D.C. 20234

     The Patent and Trademark Office was established to promote the continued growth
of American technology and business through technical information available through
patents, distribution of patent information, and maintenance of a public research center
containing applied technical information in patents.  More information is available from:

     US Patent and Trademark Office
     Department of Commerce
     Washington, D.C. 20231

     In the department of the Interior, the Office of Water Research and Technology is
authorized to respond to technical and scientific information requests. It provides
communication and coordination among all those engaged in federally-sponsored water
resources research and development.  For more information contact:

     Office of Water Research and Technology
     Department of the Interior
     Washington, D.C. 20240

     The General Services Administration will provide reference services to the public on
records of the government and on historical materials in Presidential libraries.  Inquiries go
     Central Reference Division
     National Archives and Record Services
     Washington, D.C. 20408

     Or if you want to deal with all of the above, locally, the GSA is also authorized by Presidential Memorandum to provide a single point in each major metropolitan area for the
public to address questions about federal agencies and to obtain desired information.  These offices will also help you to find the best agency or office to help you.  For a list of
addresses, contact:

     Federal Information Center
     Coordinating Staff
     Washington, D.C. 20405

Read all about it

     The Government Printing Office is authorized to make government publication
available for purchase.  Details:

     Superintendent of Documents
     Government Printing Office
     Washington, D.C.  20402

     The big book room is, of course, the Library of Congress.  By law they are to render general and specialized reference and bibliographic services based on library holdings in science and technology.  That means more than three million books, 36,000 serial titles (i.e., magazines and journals), and two million technical reports.  They also have a referral service based on an indexed inventory of some 12,000 plus information sources.  Contact:

     National Referral Center
     Science and Technology Division
     Library of Congress
     Washington, D.C. 20540
     ATTN.:  (Referral) or (Reference)

     There is more than one contact at the National Science Foundation.  Various laws have given the NSF authority to promote the progress of science and by that ensure the
continued scientific strength of the nation.  The contacts are:

     Experimental Technology Incentives Program
     National Science Foundation
     1800 G Street NW
     Washington, D.C. 20550


     Program Manager for Small Business
     Applied Science and Research Applications
     National Science Foundation
     Washington, D.C. 20550

     The nation's museum, the Smithsonian Institute makes available to qualified investigators at various levels of educational accomplishments, the facilities, collections
and professional staff of the institute.  This contact might be best for those doing "pure" research:

     Office of Fellowships and Grants
     Room 3300
     955 L'Enfant Plaza
     Smithsonian Institute
     Washington, D.C. 20560

     Also belonging to the Smithsonian but operated by NTIS, the Smithsonian Science Information Exchange is a nonprofit corporation acting as a clearinghouse for information
about ongoing or recently terminated scientific research projects.  Write:

     Smithsonian Science Information Exchange
     5285 Port Royal Road
     Springfield, VA  22161

     The Department of Energy is authorized by the Atomic Energy Act to encourage widespread use of inventions covered by DOE-owned patents.  Talking about programs and Laboratories could fill a dozen pages.  Details from:

     Assistant General Counsel for Patents
     Department of Energy
     Washington, D.C. 20545

     And finally, the Maritime Administration operates the National Shipbuilding Research Program.  For information:
     Deputy Assistant Administration for Maritime Aids
     Maritime Administration
     Department of Commerce
     Washington, D.C. 20230

Not quite finally

     There is a mixed bag of knowledge available in an even more accessible form.   Individuals within small to medium sized companies, looking to increase or enhance
productivity, can find data bases throughout the country by means of a microcomputer and odem via the INTERNET.  The goal of this access can be threefold:  identify the current
state of technology; identify technology voids that offer areas of opportunity for new markets & products, and to locate contacts and subcontract opportunities.

     The amount of information available for transfer is limited only by the users' capacity o assimilate and use the technology they need - and only the technology needed.  No browsing, please!  Sobczak has a dozen or more pages of documented INTERNET based sources

     Strange as it may seem, very little is being accomplished by departments of the government to transfer technology specifically to small business.  Of course, you should
realize that technology transfer planning must consider the regulated limits of the government's right to transfer.  The government is subject to private ownership of technology developed under contract, export license requirements, and restrictive agreements with other countries.

     The Office of Naval Research (ONR) has had responsibility for Naval patent (i.e., technology) transfer since 1976.   They advertise via the Patents and Trademark Office, Official Gazette, and the NTIS.  ONR offers the potential of an exclusive license.  Unfortunately, unless a small business does a great deal of research, it would never find ONR.  See:

     Despite decades of debate, there is no uniform government patent - technology - transfer policy today.

     The largest program for application of computer aided design and manufacturing
(CAD/CAM) and computer integrated manufacturing (CIM) technologies are run under the
acronym of MANTECH - United States Air Force Manufacturing Technology Program.
Formerly known as ICAM, now called CIM/MS - for Manufacturing Science - the project has
more than forty contracts outstanding and information can be obtained from the prime
contractor companies that act as project leaders.  Project reports and many other
documents explaining what is being done with tax dollars can be obtained directly from the
Air Force Wright Labs, Manufacturing Technology Division. Contact:

     NASA, in addition to the information listed above, sponsors the Integrated Programs for
Aerospace - Vehicle Design (IPAD) project and will part with information on CAD or
graphics if you write IPAD, Project Manager, NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton,
VA  23665.

     Information sources in the Navy are geared to increase manufacturer productivity,
reduce costs, and strengthen the industrial base.  Although the Department Location
Codes may have changed, here are three contacts in the Navy Department, all in
Washington:  Naval Air Systems Command (ZIP:  20361); Naval Electronics Systems
Command (20360); and Naval Sea Systems Command (20362).  Contact:

Non-military help

     The Department of Commerce, logically, has an interest in business success.  The
Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Technology, 14th Street at Constitution NW,
Washington, D.C. 20230) has several acronym divisions that can help you with specific
information. Programs exist under the umbrella of Commerce ACTS: Advanced Civilian
Technology Strategy for Jobs and Economic Growth.  Advanced Technology Development
is a program administered by NIST.  It includes the Advanced Manufacturing Research
Program.  Also within the NIST is the Manufacturing Extension Program (MEP).  This
program is built on the seven existing Manufacturing Technology Centers and a state
government technology extension program.  NIST has several Manufacturing Outreach
Centers as part of MEP.  Contact

     DOD's ARPA (3701 North Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA 22203-1714) funds the
Presidents Technology Reinvestment Project.  The program helps defense dependent
manufacturers with competitive problems or seeks to help in developing diversification
strategies.  Millions are co-invested with State programs to create streamlined, competitive
companies selling in the commercial marketplace.  Contact:

     The most familiar government agency to most small businesses is, of course, the
Small Business Administration.  If you need financial information, contact assistance, or
management help, contact the SBA at 1441 L Street NW, Washington, D.C.  20416.  This
as a viable resource, albeit, confusing bureaucracy.  Contact:


     As can be seen, there is a great deal of help available for a business seeking a way
to get back some tax money as a technology transfer.  The Catch 22 is that you have to
find the technology yourself, ask for it precisely, and persist.  Tenacity is rewarded.  If you
can't find it, few agencies will help you find it.  But some associations might.

     Contact the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) Manufacturing Committee at
1725 De Sales Street, Washington, D.C. 20036 for information on projects in numerical
control (NC), material handling design and manufacturing techniques, CAM hardware,
computer aided planning and process control, and various other CAM programs under
development or up and running the organization's many member companies.  Contact:

     CAM-I, a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to advancing the application of
computers to solve manufacturing problems, is based in Arlington, TX.  This organization
has ongoing programs in geometric modeling, process planning, advanced NC and
sculptured surface, and factory management.  The address is 611 Ryan Plaza Drive, suite
1107 and by the way, the "I" is for International so you can expect projects to be underway
anywhere in the industrial world.  Contact:

     It would be hard for me to leave this subject without comment on another important
organization:  Thomas V. Sobczak, Consultants,  We
deal with technology transfer, the commercialization of technology and open source
commercial intelligence systems.

     There are many other professional organizations that offer some form of technology
transfer to their members.  One of the better known is the Society of Manufacturing
Engineers (SME) - especially the Computer and Automated Systems Association (CASA),
Robotics Institute (RI) and Machine Vision Association (MVA) sections. Contact SME, P.O.
Box 930, Dearborn, MI 48121.  Contact:

Good Luck, and remember - be persistent!