Aaron Sauers is the Laboratory and Business Systems Chair at the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer.
In February, the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer (FLC) launched the second generation FLC Business site. FLC Business is a single place for the public to learn about the facilities, programs, and funding of more than 300 federal laboratories.
In 2015, the FLC and 18F held an all-day prototyping workshop to tackle a large scale problem in the technology transfer realm — disparate and unorganized data. The FLC followed the Presidential Memorandum on lab-to-market initiatives as well as data.gov mandates to find a solution to bring laboratory and available technology data together into a searchable site. Meeting with 18F allowed the FLC to go down the path to build a technology stack that meets U.S. digital standards. The result met federal guidelines while being highly effective with non-federal stakeholders.
During their workshop, 18F helped the FLC identify the following goals:
- A single dataset that meets legal disclosure requirements and fulfills data.gov open data requirements
- The ability to “push” inventions of certain types to subscribers (for example, the World Intellectual Property Organization)
- The ability to measure programmatic performance using analytics
- FLCBusiness 2.0 must be “dead-simple”, trustworthy, and inexpensive
- FLCBusiness 2.0 should be a “one-stop shop” to replace the need to check about 11 to 14 different federal lab websites
The session with 18F helped define the best method and overall architecture for the product to ensure we could continue to grow in the future. At 18F’s recommendation, the FLC adopted agile development processes and human-centered design for this project to help manage the fluid nature of the development work. Further, the concept of simplicity helped create the intuitive interface that sits on FLC Business today. Lastly, 18F confirmed that using segregated cloud infrastructure and APIs to deliver data to third parties would be critical to the success of the project.
Working with 18F helped the FLC create the largest collection of federal laboratory data and technology resources available online. FLC Business provides a hub not only to federal laboratories showcasing their work and knowledge, but also to industry professionals looking to further their research and development to change the commercial landscape.