Academy signs 1st-ever technology transfer agreement with local nonprofit

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Air Force Academy officials announced the Research Office's first-ever partnership with a local technology transfer nonprofit organization designed to assist federal technology transfer today.

The partnership with the Colorado Springs Technology Incubator, an organization supporting entrepreneurs, is now linked to the Academy's multimillion dollar research program and expected to encourage economic development and future research.

The long-term goal of the agreement is to increase the products leaving the Academy to support the Defense Department and commercial companies.

The agreement aligns with a 2011 Presidential Memorandum by seeking "to foster innovation by increasing the rate of technology transfer and the economic and societal impact from federal research and development investments."

"The CSTI was the obvious choice for the agreement," said Dr. Jim Solti, the Academy's chief scientist. "They know the Front Range and they know the Academy. It just made sense to partner with them."

Calling this a "landmark agreement," the CSTI's CEO, Dr. Ric Denton, said the organization is excited to team with Academy.

"The Academy has great intellectual property and researchers, and the Incubator team has the expertise to help overcome barriers to commercialization," he said.

The CSTIs will conduct a technology audit of available technology and resources created at the Academy and find companies willing and able to license the technology, Denton said.

The Academy will "cast a wide net for potential companies to market products identified by CSTI," Solti said.

To that end, a university-wide Innovation Expo to highlight the Academy's science and humanities research is scheduled for Dec. 6 in Arnold Hall. This event is open to the public.

"Our scientists have been conducting state-of-the-art research and developing capability for decades," Solti said. "This isn't new. We've been transferring the technology to benefit the Air Force and private industry, but the Incubator's collaboration expands that effort considerably."

The partnership will benefit Colorado Springs economy and business environment, Solti said.

"We have products here that we believe are game changes," he said. "Some of the research we're working on will need further study, but we are convinced there are opportunities to create jobs and spur economic development within the local community and beyond."

Academy researchers have several patented inventions ready for launch, and aeronautics scientists received national attention from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency for developing an engine-and-wing combination designed to save millions in fuel costs for jet planes.

Researchers here also created a system to prevent costly bird strikes causing planes' engines to fail and have conducted patent-pending astronautics, software application, communication, and physics and mechanical engineering research.

"Over the past 10 years, the size, scope, complexity, volume and velocity of our research program has accelerated," Solti said. "The goal remains the same: to support the Air Force and (the Defense Department) while enriching the cadet experience through research. Now, as appropriate, we are seeking opportunities to move technology to the private sector. Everyone benefits."