One of the priorities in President Barack Obama's first term has been using the federal government to spread technology to the private sector.
During the 2008 campaign, Obama promised to "establish multi-agency programs that focus on rapid maturation of advanced concepts and transfer to industry for commercialization."
On Oct. 28, 2011, Obama issued a presidential memorandum titled, "Accelerating Technology Transfer and Commercialization of Federal Research in Support of High-Growth Businesses." In it, he wrote that "innovation fuels economic growth, the creation of new industries, companies, jobs, products and services, and the global competitiveness of U.S. industries" and that "one driver of successful innovation is technology transfer, in which the private sector adapts federal research for use in the marketplace."
He ordered an increased rate of technology transfer from federal research and development investments by committing each executive department and agency to "increase the successful outcomes of these activities significantly over the next five years."
Since the promise we're checking was made in the context of space policy, we'll focus on what's been happening at NASA. At the space agency, the technology transfer effort is overseen by NASA's Chief Technologist, with the key program known as Partnership Development and Strategic Integration. This program brings together NASA scientists and private-sector companies to foster commercial applications for technology in the life sciences, robotics, materials, communication, propulsion, sensor technology, and optical imaging.
The budget for this program was $20.3 million in fiscal year 2010, rising to $26.6 million in fiscal year 2011 and $29.5 million in 2012, with a presidential request to keep funding steady for 2013.
In fiscal year 2011, NASA said it had entered into more than 1,500 partnerships with outside entities, filed 129 patent applications and reported 1,257 new inventions. The agency initiated technology collaboration with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Air Force Research Laboratory, the National Science Foundation and other government agencies, in addition to private-sector companies.
We rate this a Promise Kept.