One of the biggest challenges that government entities face in technology transfer is discerning which of the hundreds of technologies within their intellectual property (IP) portfolios have strong potential for commercialization. So many technologies, while ideal for their original purpose, are not well-suited to mass production and/or real-world application. To find these “needles in the haystack,” these organizations must be both intimately familiar with their IP and capable of effectively marketing this IP to potential partners. Like many entities, the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) Office of Research and Technology Transfer (ORTT) lacked an effective and efficient tracking system for their inventions. At any given time, ERDC has over 50 patents and is encouraged to license its IP to private industry and other entities. Without a good system in place to assess their IP’s market potential, however, this licensing process was haphazard at best. IVT was tasked with developing a more strategic approach to IP portfolio management and licensing to align ERDC’s efforts with the market. See more details on the overarching Innovation to Impact Strategy here.
IVT began this process by conducting a much-needed accounting of all of ERDC’s IP. Each piece of IP was carefully reviewed using IVT’s standardized triage process, and key parameters were entered into a database. This IP Database focuses specifically on commercialization and/or partnership opportunities. Following this, IVT developed a new IP Portfolio Website, ERDCinnovation.org. This website, which was launched in July of 2021, is designed to help ERDC more effectively promote its technologies in a way that is both attractive and easy for potential partners to quickly grasp. IVT was responsible for the concept, organization, body copy, design, graphics, development, and maintenance of the site. In addition to sharing ERDC technologies, a “How to License” page was added to demystify the government licensing process by providing information sheets and easy-to-use applications for licensing. See more on IVT’s use of information sheets here.
While the initial intent of this effort was to increase the number of licenses to broaden the impact of ERDC’s R&D work, its positive effects have been much more broadly felt. Not only has ERDC received several license applications following the launch of the site, ORTT team members have also been able to use this site as a helpful resource in responding to external inquiries, identify promising researchers in need of support, and positioning technologies for external and internal awards.