Technology Transfer at NSA: Moving Innovations from the Lab to the Marketplace
The Internet, Global Positioning Systems, Goodyear Tires … all of these products had their genesis in a federal government-sponsored lab before becoming widely available to the public. How does a technology move from a federal research facility to the commercial marketplace? At the National Security Agency (NSA), the NSA Technology Transfer Program (TTP) drives the transfer of technologies from lab to market.
So how does the TTP transfer a technology developed for Government use to a commercial application? The TTP matches a company or entrepreneur with one or more of the 200 patented NSA technologies available for licensing. The program provides access to innovative NSA technology through a Patent License Agreement (PLA), which helps businesses achieve market advantage and differentiation — a crucial need in today’s fast paced, competitive environment.
The licensing of NSA’s patented Wireless Intrusion Detection System (WIDS) is a good example of a successful tech transfer. It resulted in the creation of a new business and a new cybersecurity product.
WIDS was developed and patented within NSA as an advanced cybersecurity solution for wireless local area networks (WLANs). It differs from other technologies by continuously monitoring all WiFi channels all of the time instead of channel-hopping, which can periodically expose networks to undetected attack. It also allows quick anomaly detection and alerting capabilities to ensure security breaches are reported immediately.
The NSA TTP executed an exclusive PLA with Maryland entrepreneur Mike Geppi in 2013 to commercialize the WIDS cybersecurity potential. With help from the NSA TTP, the startup company, Integrata Security, tapped the numerous entrepreneurial resources within Maryland’s “innovation ecosystem” to procure over $1 million in seed funding. A year after signing the PLA with NSA, the company has secured $1.5 million in commercial preorders, created 10 new jobs, and expects to have its fully commercialized system on the market this year.
The new product, RadioSleuth, is designed to provide a solution to the cyber threats that plague government and industry alike. Through this partnership, a new company was formed and new jobs were added, creating a positive economic impact while advancing technology. The NSA TTP won the prestigious 2015 Federal Laboratory Consortium Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer for the successful WIDS transfer.
The NSA TTP recently completed another successful match between software development company LG-TEK and several NSA signal processing innovations. The resulting PLA allows LG-TEK to advance and market patented technologies that automate voice recognition as a biometric security feature for electronic devices. Still in the early stages, the commercialized product is being designed in support of two-part authentication to improve passcode capabilities and security. Product beta testing is expected to take place in Fall of 2015.
“NSA’s innovators work on some of the most challenging national security problems imaginable,” said Linda Burger, Director of the NSA TTP. “Their research breakthroughs often have broad, commercial applications. The NSA TTP moves technology from the lab to the marketplace, making state-of-the-art technology more widely available and driving U.S. economic growth.”