Press Release

Gillibrand Announces Senate Passage Of DOD Pilot Program To Bring High-Tech Innovation To The Marketplace

Dec 12, 2014

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced that Congress passed 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 her 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 help translate more of the estimated $2.3 billion a year of research funding secured by New York City university research institutions into successful small businesses and science and technology jobs in Brooklyn and across New York. The NDAA passed the House of Representatives last week and passed the Senate today.

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 State currently ranks second in the nation in university research funding – securing approximately $6 billion in total federal investment across research institutions each year – but only attracts 7 percent of the nation’s venture capital needed to grow successful companies.

To help close this gap, Gillibrand joined local leaders at the Urban Future Lab located at NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering’s Downtown Brooklyn campus in August of this year to announce the introduction of the Technology and Research Accelerating National Security and Future Economic Resiliency (TRANSFER) Act, which would create a competitive grant program for universities, colleges, federal laboratories and non-profit research institutions to help scientists and researchers secure valuable business resources to bring their discoveries to the marketplace and create new high-tech companies and jobs.

“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.”

“Brooklyn is one of the country’s leaders in higher educational institutions, and has increasingly maximized the cooperation between its brain trust with business and government partnerships,” said State Senator Velmanette Montgomery. “It’s a great fit, and the ideas coming out of these incubators will literally change the marketplace and the world. I am very grateful to Senator Gillibrand and my partners in government for their foresight and perseverance that is paying such great rewards already, with many more to come!”

“I thank Senator Gillibrand for fighting in Washington to foster Brooklyn’s innovation economy,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “Our borough’s researchers and scientists are on the cutting edge of their fields, and the commercialization of their discoveries will enrich our economy, benefit our consumers and advance opportunities at our universities and laboratories. The bipartisan TRANSFER act is a blueprint for success, in Brooklyn and beyond, to bring our high-tech industry to the next level.”

“New Yorkers are extremely fortunate to have somebody in the U.S. Senate who truly understands the direct connection between university-based research and the development of new technologies, jobs, and the growing economy,” said Kurt Becker, Vice Dean for Academic Affairs at the New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering. “We are thankful for Senator Gillibrand’s leadership role in spearheading the TRANSFER Act, which will greatly enhance university efforts to transform new ideas and research into commercial products.”

“Some of the best and brightest minds in the world of science and technology are right here in Brooklyn, and Senator Gillibrand’s legislation will now allow them to turn their great ideas into successful businesses and new jobs,” says Carlo Scissura, President and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. “New York has always been a center of innovation, and thanks to this bill, we will provide a new boost to our economy by growing our technology sector even further. I want to thank Senator Gillibrand for introducing this legislation, and for all of her work to help Brooklyn’s businesses flourish.” 

“We are grateful for the support of our federal partners in advancing New York City’s innovation economy,” said New York City Economic Development Corporation President Kyle Kimball. “The TRANSFER Act builds upon the momentum of the City’s investments to support the growth of hundreds of companies and tens of thousands of good jobs, ensuring New York’s prominence as a global capital of cutting-edge technology.”

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.