December 05, 2014

Senator Gillibrand And Congressman Collins Announce House Approval Of DOD Pilot Program To Bring High-Tech Innovation To The Marketplace

Gillibrand and Collins Introduced Bipartisan TRANSFER Act to Help Launch Innovative Small Businesses, Turn Researchers into Entrepreneurs, Translate Discoveries into Marketable Products, Create High-Tech Jobs Across New York

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) announced that the House of Representatives has approved as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) a provision to extend and enhance a Department of Defense (DOD) Proof of Concept Commercialization Pilot Program based on key provisions from their legislation to help accelerate the commercialization of basic research. This provision authorizes military departments across DOD to make competitive awards to universities, non-profit research institutions, and federal laboratories to carry out programming to translate more research into the creation of new small businesses and science and technology jobs across New York and the country. The NDAA is expected to be before the Senate next week.

There are often few resources available to help researchers who work with federal laboratories or who are based at universities or non-profit research organizations to translate their scientific discoveries into marketable products and companies. There is a particular need for “proof of concept” funding, which is aimed at helping researchers prove that their research can be practically and concretely used, better positioning the technology for private investment critical to launching a company. 

“New York is home to some of the world’s brightest minds and best ideas to grow our economy,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This important provision will help bring high-tech innovation into the marketplace, producing cutting-edge small businesses and new jobs. Equipping our scientists and students with support and access to much-needed gap funding will go a long way towards creating the next high-tech industry and a new generation of innovative leaders who are critical to the future of our economy.”

“By investing in our nation’s innovators, we can create desperately needed new jobs and small businesses,” said Congressman Collins. “Every day, new ideas are realized at our universities, non-profit research institutes, and national labs. These ideas often remain just ideas because researchers lack the resources to further their invention or concept. This legislation bridges the gap from innovation to commercialization, and positively impacts federal taxpayers and local research institutions.”

New York State currently ranks second in the nation in university research funding – securing more than $6 billion in total investment across research institutions each year – but only attracts 7 percent of the nation’s venture capital needed to grow successful companies. Of this amount, Upstate areas only receive about 3 percent of venture capital that comes to the state, holding back the potential to grow new businesses from the research done at institutions across Upstate New York. To help close this gap, Senator Gillibrand and Congressman Collins introduced the Technology and Research Accelerating National Security and Future Economic Resiliency (TRANSFER) Act, which would create a competitive grant program across five federal agencies, including DOD, for universities, federal laboratories and non-profit research institutions to help scientists and researchers secure valuable business resources and training to attract private investment, bring their discoveries to the marketplace, and create new high-tech companies and jobs.

Under the NDAA Proof of Concept Commercialization Pilot Program, military departments across DOD are authorized to establish a competitive grant program to help universities, federal laboratories and other non-profit research institutions identify and grow the development and commercialization of initial discoveries, making potential products more attractive to state, local and private investment, and providing important technology for use by the military. Winning institutions are eligible for up to $1 million in federal funding.

This investment would help create or strengthen “proof of concept” funds and technology transfer programs. Universities and institutions would be able to use grants for important technology development activities like evaluating the commercial potential of existing discoveries, including technical validations, market research, clarifying intellectual property rights, and investigating commercial and business opportunities.