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Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act, Pub. L. No. 96-480, as amended by the Federal Technology Transfer Act of 1986 (Pub. L. No. 99-502), the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act (P.L. 101-418), the National Competitiveness Technology Transfer Act of 1989 (Pub. L. No. 101-189), the National Defense Authorization Act for FY91 (Pub. L. No. 101-510), the Technology Transfer Improvements and Advancement Act (Pub. L. No. 104- 113), and the Technology Transfer Commercialization Act (Pub. L. No. 106-404).


In 1980, Congress enacted the Act, recognizing the benefits to be derived from the transfer of technology, the law explicitly states that:

It is the continuing responsibility of the federal government to ensure the full use of the results of the Nation's federal investment in research and development. To this end the federal government shall strive where appropriate to transfer federally owned or originated [non-classified] technology to state and local governments and to the private sector.

Prior to this Act, technology transfer was not part of the mission requirements of the federal departments and agencies, with the exception of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. This left laboratory personnel open to questions as to the suitability of their transfer activities. However, the Act "legitimized" the transfer effort and mandated that technology transfer be accomplished as an expressed part of each agency’s mission.

Section 11 created the mechanisms by which federal agencies and their laboratories can transfer technology. Each department with at least one laboratory must make available not less than 0.5% of its R&D budget for transfer activities, although this requirement can and has been waived. To facilitate transfer from the laboratories, each one is required to establish an Office of Research and Technology Applications (ORTA); laboratories with annual budgets exceeding $20 million must have at least one full-time staff person for this office (although the latter provision can also be waived). The function of the ORTA is to identify technologies and ideas that have potential for application in other settings.

Additional incentives for the transfer and commercialization of technology are contained in various amendments to the Act, including the: