Lab Site Offers Clues About Emerging Technologies

John Makulowich

Among the varied sources of valuable information on the Internet from which channel members — systems integrators, value-added resellers and applications developers — can glimpse future business opportunities or develop a strategy for working with the government, one of the more interesting is the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer. (FLC;

As its World Wide Web homepage notes, the FLC is "the nationwide network of federal laboratories that provides the forum to develop strategies and opportunities for linking laboratory mission technologies and expertise with the marketplace."

FLC began in 1974 and was formally chartered by the Federal Technology Transfer Act of 1986 to promote and strengthen technology transfer nationally. More than 600 federal laboratories, centers, parent departments and agencies are members.

While channel members may not be interested specifically in the laboratory initiatives, the research conducted there and the funding authorized by Congress offer clues about what technologies may emerge in the marketplace in the coming years. And those clues can be helpful in developing corporate strategy or fashioning marketing tactics to deal with the evolving market.

The key point about FLC is that federal technology's primary users include the federal government. As FLC notes: "One of the driving forces of FLC activities is to ensure that federal agencies are aware of applications of new technologies developed within their own or other laboratories."

One place to gain perspective on federal laboratory funding is on the Web site of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which analyzes the federal investment in research and development each fiscal year. For fiscal 1999, you can retrieve the 11-page, pdf-formatted document, "Congressional Action on R&D in the FY 1999 Budget," from fy99.htm.

In the preview report, you find total federal support of research and development in fiscal year 1999 is expected to reach $80.2 billion. That is $4.1 billion, or 5.3 percent, more than in fiscal year 1998. Among the agencies benefiting is the National Institutes of Health, which got nearly $2 billion, its largest dollar increase in history. The non-defense research and development total, $38.3 billion, is $2.7 billion, or 7.4 percent more than fiscal 1998.

Looking at the big picture, the National Science Foundation estimates the total U.S. research and development effort in 1998 will be $221 billion, or 7.3 percent more than 1997.

Another valuable document cited on the FLC site is a National Science Policy study, introduced late in 1998 and found at It calls for a host of new initiatives involving the private sector and is the first long-range science and technology policy for the nation issued in nearly 50 years.

The FLC has a Washington office. You can contact them by e-mail at either or flcrep@flcdc.

To contact John Makulowich, send e-mail to; his Web address is

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