How to License NASA Technologies – Interview with Laura Fobel, NASA Armstrong Chief Technology Transfer Officer

When it comes to startups and small businesses, getting the right kind of intellectual property can literally transform the company from zero to hero overnight. But the question is where do you go to find a winning IP to license?

NASA is known as the United States space agency with a long, rich history of space exploration. But NASA is also a hotbed of intellectual property that’s been applied to other industries, creating some of the most successful new products, technologies and businesses in the commercial marketplace today.

Some of these include memory foam used in all sorts of therapeutic beds and pillows; firefighting technology to suppress fires in a matter of seconds as opposed to hours; voltage controllers that improve the operating efficiency of devices ranging from mixers to conveyors, elevators and escalators; medical technology that saves lives by detecting plaque buildup leading to a heart attack or stroke; portable communication technology used for disasters in remote areas; wing tip designs that saves the aviation industry billions of dollars in reduced fuel costs.

These are just the tip of the iceberg of the type of technologies available for licensing through NASA. What do these technologies mean to startups and small companies that license them? In many cases, it can catapult your business from zero to hero. One small Minnesota company generated over $20 million in one year; a startup out of California grew from $1 million to $8 million; a bio-sciences company out of Maryland generated over $400 million in annual revenue with its NASA licensed technology. This is just a small sample of the hundreds of companies that tapped into NASA IP through licensing and created multi million dollar revenue generating businesses.

If you’ve never heard about the licensing opportunities at NASA, that’s about to change. Recently, NASA and the Tritech/SBDC in Riverside CA formed an alliance to help facilitate the licensing and commercialization of NASA technologies in the startup and small business community. In particular, NASA/SBDC is seeking licensing partners to re-purpose a number of aerospace technologies, including information technology, materials science, sensor technologies and additive manufacturing, into new businesses outside the aerospace industry. The goal of this partnership is to use NASA technologies to spur business and economic development in the Southern California area.

So how do you go about licensing a NASA technology? To find out, I recently spoke with Laura Fobel, the Chief Technology Transfer Officer for NASA Armstrong Center in California. During this interview, we discussed NASA and the different centers and types of technologies they offer. Laura provided in-depth detail about the NASA IP research and development process and how it partners with the startup and small business community.

We also discussed the licensing process, what type of businesses qualify to get a license, and the different types of licenses offered by NASA. For example, there’s a special license for startups in which you can acquire and develop a technology for little or no money, with rights to commercialize it after proving market viability. You’ll hear about the quick launch licensing program for market ready technologies offered through a low-cost, no-negotiation licensing agreement. And you’ll also find out how to qualify for other NASA R&D funding options through the STTR/SBIR programs, as well as the amazing development resources available to help startups and small businesses successfully commercialize these NASA technologies.

Click here to listen to this in-depth discussion and find out how to tap into this literal goldmine of technology IP and resources available from NASA.

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