Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 09/2014

Technology Transfer: Bringing Innovation to NASA and the Nation

November 2004

The National Academy of Public Administration


Since its creation in 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has developed a wide range of important technologies that the private sector has commercialized. These include such essential aspects of modern life as small computers, cellular communications, and lightweight and heat resistant materials.

Despite these past contributions, NASA has not been as successful with its recent technology transfer efforts due to organizational changes, budget difficulties, and a lack of program focus. Equally important, private industry and universities often are the leaders in many technologies that NASA needs for its missions, which is a fundamental change from prior decades. Managing effectively in this new environment requires a different approach to technology transfer and a different set of skills.