Office of Research and Technology Applications

The Office of Research and Technology Applications (ORTA) includes the individual(s) who actually serves as the focal point for technology transfer activities. The ORTA representative functions as a broker to connect people essential for effective transfer of technology. While technology transfer does have technical components, it also depends on person-to-person relationships that must be forged inside and outside the laboratory.

The Federal Technology Transfer Act defines the manager of the ORTA as a highly qualified, competent individual who is strategically placed within the federal laboratory. As such, the ORTA manager can develop and promote the key partnerships necessary for technology transfer. The ORTA manager should possess knowledge of intellectual property rights and the basic technology transfer mechanisms.

The Federal Technology Transfer Act outlines the ORTA's function as follows:

  • To prepare application assessments for selected research and development projects in which that laboratory is engaged and which in the opinion of the laboratory personnel may have potential commercial applications
  • To provide and disseminate information on federally owned or originated products, processes and services having potential application to state and local governments and to private industry
  • To cooperate with and assist the National Technical Information Service, the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer, and other organizations which link the research and development resources of that laboratory and the federal government as a whole to potential users in state and local government and private industry
  • To provide technical assistance to state and local government officials
  • To participate, where feasible, in regional, state and local programs designed to facilitate or stimulate the transfer of technology for the benefit of the region, state or local jurisdiction in which the Federal laboratory is located.

Other functions may be assigned by the individual laboratory.

Defining the ORTA Manager

The act also provides guidance that "…individuals filling positions in an Office of Research and Technology Applications shall be included in the overall laboratory/agency management development program so as to ensure that highly competent technical managers are full participants in the technology transfer process."

The ORTA manager at each laboratory must:

  • Make potential clients aware of their technology
  • Identify the value to the client of adopting the technology
  • Inform laboratory personnel on Technology Transfer

To accomplish technology transfer or provide effective technical assistance services, the ORTA manager must understand and appreciate issues related to commercial markets and organizational resistance to change. ORTA is the laboratory’s focal point for implementing technology transfer and performs the role of a technology “broker,” connecting the people and organizations inside and outside the laboratory who are essential to effective technology transfer.

(Source: FLC Technology Transfer Desk Reference, 2002, p.1-10-11)

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