The Department of Energy (DOE) is one of the largest supporters of technology transfer in the federal government. A 2015 report by the Department of Commerce provides insight into the extent of these contributions, which records DOE as the leader in invention disclosures, patent applications, patents, licenses, invention licenses, and income-bearing licenses. It also reveals that the Department is responsible for almost 90 percent of the total number of active licenses, and it has supported the most start-ups of any agency.
The Office of Technology Transitions (OTT) was established in 2015 to oversee and advance this important mission by expanding the commercial impact of the Department of Energy’s research and development portfolio to advance the economic, energy, and national security interests of the Nation. The office develops the Department’s policy and vision for expanding the commercial impact of its research investments, and it streamlines information and access to DOE’s national labs and sites to foster partnerships that will move innovations from the labs into the marketplace.
To understand the mission of the office accurately, it is important to define “technology transitions.” It is the dynamic process, with numerous and varying handoffs between scientists, innovators, and entrepreneurs, that begins with an idea that is ultimately transitioned to a commercialized technology by the private sector. Every technology follows its own unique path and requires a variety of exchanges and partnerships to advance it along the developmental spectrum. OTT provides support in each step of this process.
OTT conducts data management and analysis, evidence-based impact evaluations, and stakeholder engagement. The office also oversees two major DOE initiatives, the Technology Commercialization Fund and the Energy Investor Center. More detailed information is available on each of these subjects under our “Services” tab. Additionally, the OTT implements public laws passed by Congress. The office derives much of its mission, responsibilities, and oversight authority from the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980, Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980, and Energy Policy Act of 2005. These legislations require OTT to develop two reports to Congress annually— the “Technology Transitions Execution Plan” and the “Report on Technology Transfer and Related Technology Partnering Activities at the National Laboratories and Other Facilities.” Finally, the OTT Director serves in a dual capacity as the Technology Transfer Coordinator to ensure that the OTT is aligned with the Secretary’s vision and that the Secretary is advised on all matters relating to technology transfer and commercialization activities.
OTT’s responsibility extends throughout the Department’s programs, 17 national laboratories, and other research and production facilities located throughout the country, and the office works closely with stakeholders and personnel at all of these locations to ensure the development of the best policies and to maintain awareness of the latest issues. Together, OTT works with internal and external partners to enhance the nation’s economic competitiveness and strengthen its leadership in innovation and transformative, impactful technologies.