Guidelines for Successfully Transferring Government-Sponsored Innovations

Posted: 6 Apr 2016

See all articles by Marilyn A. Brown

Marilyn A. Brown

Georgia Institute of Technology

Rajeev K. Goel

Illinois State University - Department of Economics

Date Written: 1991


The purpose of this paper is to develop guidelines that managers of government-sponsored R&D could use in identifying appropriate technology transfer strategies for specific innovations. The paper begins with a description of six types of commercialization strategies that have been successfully used by federal agencies: contracting R&D to industrial partners, working with industrial consortia, licensing to industry, influencing key decision makers, working with broker organizations, and generating end-user demand. Next the results of nine case studies of innovations are summarized: five have been fully commercialized and four have been semi-commercialized. These case studies illustrate the need to tailor commercialization strategies to specific innovations.

Three ways of classifying innovations (based on technological, market, and policy criteria) are proposed. Technological criteria evaluate inventions on scientific and technical grounds, while market criteria evaluate inventions with respect to characteristics of the marketplace. Policy criteria refer to a government agency's resources and goals. Once these evaluations are completed, the choice of a commercialization mode is facilitated.

Finally, guidelines for selecting a technology transfer strategy are developed, based primarily on the five fully commercialized innovations. These guidelines are summarized in a matrix which presents the relationships between the evaluation criteria and appropriate technology transfer strategies. The guidelines are tested by applying them to the semi-commercialized innovations. The consistency between the recommended strategies and the strategies actually used is examined.

Keywords: Government-sponsored innovation, Technology transfer, R&D, Commercialization

JEL Classification: O32, O38

Suggested Citation

Brown, Marilyn A. and Goel, Rajeev K., Guidelines for Successfully Transferring Government-Sponsored Innovations (1991). Research Policy, Vol. 20, No. 2, pp. 121-143, Available at SSRN:

Marilyn A. Brown

Georgia Institute of Technology ( email )

Atlanta, GA 30332
United States

Rajeev K. Goel (Contact Author)

Illinois State University - Department of Economics ( email )

Normal, IL 61790-4200
United States

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