S&T’s role as a clearinghouse for capability gaps reported by its partners in DHS and the first-responder community puts it in a good position to tell manufacturers of technologies what the market wants or needs. For businesses, however, anecdotal evidence is not enough, so S&T has gone further.
“Commercialization was set up based on a simple premise: that the private sector would be willing and able to step up and assist us if we gave them two things, and neither of them is money,” says S&T Chief Commercialization Officer Thomas Cellucci. “The first is detailed operational requirements that articulate what our needs are; the second is a conservative estimate of the potential market.”
The market’s product needs are detailed in operational requirement documents (ORDs), which S&T publishes on its Web site. S&T has issued eight to date, covering solutions that range from something as narrow as a blast-resistant video camera to something as broad as a “National Emergency Response Interoperability Framework and Resilient System of Systems.” ORDs are performance-based and, therefore, “solution agnostic,” says Cellucci.
Products approved by DHS as satisfying an ORD would receive the agency’s System Efficiency through Commercialization, Utilization, Relevance, and Evaluation (SECURE) certification.
The commercialization program’s first test of a new product kicked off with a bang last year, when S&T blew up a retired Maryland Transit Agency bus at the Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground. Inside were 16 video cameras, all hardened to withstand the blast. While the cameras could be sacrificed, what S&T wanted was their memory chips.
The test stemmed from requests from the Transportation Security Administration and authorities in New York; Washington, D.C.; Chicago; and Seattle for a camera that could collect video for forensic examination, even after an explosion. Two companies’ units passed the test: one from Videology Inc. of Greenville, Rhode Island; and the other from Visual Defence-USA of Alexandria, Virginia. Both await SECURE certification pending further testing.
More than 40 products are in development based on cooperative research agreements signed by S&T and vendors. There are 43 more ORDs in development, Cellucci says. “If they’re aligned to the program requirements, they get the seal,” Cellucci says.
Intellectual property rights. Ownership of intellectual property (IP) developed across the government R&D spectrum can vary by project. At Sandia, for example, intellectual property generated by researchers is most often held by the federal agency that funded the project. At Brookhaven, most intellectual property is held by Brookhaven Science Associates, a collaboration between Stony Brook University and research firm Battelle, that manages the lab.
Under S&T, intellectual property ownership is often determined through cooperative research agreements—contracts between the agency and developers. Those working with the government should carefully consider IP in their contract negotiations.
In government’s effort to help industry navigate the technological path toward better security solutions, S&T is “a new kid on the block,” and its funds are limited, says Walker, a veteran of defense research and development. Even so, its contribution may end up being significant if its targeted and segmented approach pays off as intended.