Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988, Pub. L. No. 100-418, 102 Stat. 1107 (Aug. 23, 1998) (full-text).
In response to concerns over the development and application of new technology, the Act contained several provisions designed to foster technology transfer. The law redesignated the National Bureau of Standards as the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and mandated the establishment of (among other things): (1) an Advanced Technology Program (ATP) to encourage public-private cooperative efforts in the development of industrial technology and to promote the use of NIST technology and expertise; (2) Regional Manufacturing Technology Transfer Centers; and (3) a clearinghouse on State and local innovation related activities. The set-aside for operation of the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer (FLC) created in Pub. L. No. 99-502 was also increased from 0.005% of the laboratory R&D budget to 0.008%.
Regional Manufacturing Technology Transfer Centers Edit
The Act created a program of regional centers to assist small manufacturing companies’ use of knowledge and technology developed under the auspices of the NIST and other federal agencies. Federal funding for the centers is matched by non-federal sources including state and local governments and industry.
Originally, seven Regional Centers for the Transfer of Manufacturing Technology were selected and are operational: the Great Lakes Manufacturing Technology Center at the Cleveland Advanced Manufacturing Program in Ohio; the Northeast Manufacturing Technology Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York (now called the New York Manufacturing Extension Partnership); the South Carolina Technology Transfer Cooperative based at the University of South Carolina in Columbia; the Midwest Manufacturing Technology Center at the Industrial Technology Institute in Ann Arbor, Michigan; the Mid-American Manufacturing Technology Center at the Kansas Technology Enterprise Corporation of Topeka; the California Manufacturing Technology Center at El Camino College in Torrance; and the Upper Midwest Manufacturing Technology Center in Minneapolis.
The original program expanded in 1994 creating the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) to meet new and growing needs of the community. In a more varied approach, the Partnership involves both large centers and smaller, more dispersed organizations sometimes affiliated with larger centers. Also included is the NIST State Technology Extension Program which provides states with grants to develop the infrastructure necessary to transfer technology from the federal government to the private sector (an effort which was also mandated by Pub. L. No. 100-418) and a program that electronically ties the disparate parties together along with other federal, state, local, and academic technology transfer organizations.
There are now centers in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. Since the program was created in 1989, awards made by NIST for extension activities resulting in the creation of approximately 400 regional offices. [It should be noted that the Department of Defense also funded 36 centers through its Technology Reinvestment Project (TRP) in FY1994 and FY1995. When the TRP was terminated, NIST took over support for 20 of these programs in FY1996 and financed the remaining ones during FY1997.]