NASA Technology Programs Looking To Create Economic Development

Mar 11, 2016

NASA technologies have helped send rockets to space, but they have also helped improve daily life here on earth. NASA is now hoping to help a new generation of entrepreneurs.

The Dust buster, memory foam mattresses, and Olympic swimsuits were all developed from technology originally designed at NASA. Daniel Lockney, a Technology Transfer Program Executive at NASA says most people use some NASA technology everyday.

“The camera in your cell phone we invented that,” Lockney said. “It’s a lightweight, high resolution camera, doesn’t draw a lot of power, we used it for space applications on a satellite. That same exact camera on a chip, is the same is the same exact camera that you have in your cell phone today.”

Lockney says it’s part of NASA’s mission to provide the technology they discover to the public, and they do so through patent licensing and free software downloads. Lockney says most of the things they create can have a commercial use.

“The technologies we create aren’t just for rockets,” Lockney said. “We keep humans alive in space, that becomes handy for things like medicine, nutrition, exercise equipment, that can be translated to use here on earth. Radiation mitigation, preserving our launch pads, we do basic biology, basic chemistry, basic physics, basic aeronautics, and we reach so many different areas, the portfolio is so large, and it’s all available, and of use to people in many areas of life.”

Lockney says they are now trying to make it even easier for people to create with NASA technologies.

“We have a new initiative called start-up NASA,” Lockney said. “Which is a free license to entrepreneurs that form a start-up company. We’re seeing a lot of student groups do that, look at our technology portfolio, realize they want to form a company around it, and we help them get off the ground by giving them a free license.”

Lockney says they want to make sure people know they want to help economic development.

“We want high growth jobs,” Lockney said. “We want a lot of high tech companies, and we want to reach as many students as we can, and tell them that the federal government, specifically NASA, has technologies that are available to them to use and even if they don’t use it now, maybe some day they’ll remember and they’ll think about it down the line.”

Lockney says in order to help people use the free technology and licensing available for people they are partnering to create the Space Race competition, to help entrepreneurs create businesses.

“The only thing that’s missing is seed funding and entrepreneurial training,” Lockney said. “So, the Center for Advancing Innovation this group that we’ve partnered with, they’re providing both of those things. So, we bring the technology and the students bring their ideas, their enthusiasm, their energy, and then CAI they bring dollars and entrepreneurial training. So, there is a business plan competition, and at the end of it winning teams have access to up to $1.2 million per team, per invention to try to get their company off the ground. So, you’ve got a proven invention, you’ve got entrepreneurial training, you’ve got energy and enthusiasm, and then you have money, and that’s a pretty cool combination for starting businesses.”

For more information on the Space Race competition, and to access NASA’s available free technology visit