Articles on Technology Transfer


Technology transfer is the process of changing ownership and control over an invention from the creator to a party intending to generate a commercial product or service. It is typically an intermediate step between development activity that generates invention outputs and production activity where commercial innovations are formed (Lane, 2012).

The following documents, primarily developed by staff members of the Center on Knowledge Translation for Technology Transfer (KT4TT) at SUNY Buffalo, discuss technology transfer and its intersection with knowledge translation.


Clayback, D., Hostak, R., Leahy, J., Minkel, J., Piper, M., Smith, R. O., & Vaarwerk, T. (2014). Standards for assistive technology funding: What are the right criteria? Austin, TX: SEDL, Center on Knowledge Translation for Disability and Rehabilitation Research.

Abstract: Developed by the KTDRR's Assistive Technology (AT) Working Group, this white paper addresses the issue of the expectation of an evidence-based standard to determine AT product efficacy, and the impact of this standard on the transfer, use, and payment for assistive technologies designed for persons with disabilities. The highest level of evidence is produced through randomized controlled trials; however, that option is rarely feasible when establishing accuracy of effectiveness in assistive rehabilitation technologies because often the solutions provided are unique to an individual. This issue must be addressed so that it does not limit access to rehabilitation assistive technologies by those who need them.

Recommendations set forth by the AT Working Group in the white paper and webcast included conducting an intra-agency Department of Health and Human Services conference with agencies such as Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and NIDILRR to consider and define the hierarchy of evidence needed for the determination of AT safety and effectiveness, AT best clinical practices guidelines, the appropriateness and practicality of AT data collection methods, and the creation, utilization and promotion of a national AT usage and outcomes database. The AT working group also recommends that legislative action should be taken to define the types of AT that are designed to meet the long-term needs for persons with disabilities separate from the policies governing Durable Medical Equipment to allow improved recognition and policies, as well as to shift the AT reimbursement model from being purely a medical model to a model that also considers the social and functional context of the AT user.

Members of the AT Working Group represent five key stakeholder groups (AT Consumers, AT Service Providers, AT Researchers and Methodologists, AT Manufacturers/Product Developers, and AT Payers and Policy Makers) that comprise the entire system of manufacture, prescription, application, funding, reimbursement, and efficacy research within each field of AT devices and services.

Descriptor Scales

Evidence: 1 - Author(s) opinion
Consumer Orientation: B - Some data
Readability: III - High (Grade 12 or above)


Clayback, D., Hostak, R., Leahy, J., Minkel, J., Piper, M., Smith, R. O., & Vaarwerk, T. (2015). Standards for assistive technology funding: What are the right criteria? Assistive Technology Outcomes and Benefit, 9(1), 38-53. Retrieved from: http://atia.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageID=4644

(NOTE - similar to: Clayback, D., Hostak, R., Leahy, J., Minkel, J., Piper, M., Smith, R. O., & Vaarwerk, T. (2014). Standards for assistive technology funding: What are the right criteria? Austin, TX: SEDL, Center on Knowledge Translation for Disability and Rehabilitation Research.)

Abstract: Assistive technology developers, manufacturers, and service providers face new third-party pay or requirements to demonstrate supporting evidence about the effectiveness of Assistive Technology (AT). The level of evidence being required is comparable to standards of evidence used to support interventions in the medical arena, known as evidence-based medicine. The gold standard for this level of evidence is generally produced through conducting randomized controlled trials (RCTs). However, the RCT is rarely practical or appropriate for showing the true effectiveness of assistive rehabilitation technologies for persons with disabilities. Therefore, alternative options for evidence of AT effectiveness must be identified and accepted.

In this paper, we address the expectation of an evidence-based standard to determine AT product efficacy, and the impact of this standard on the transfer, use, and payment for assistive technologies designed for persons with disabilities. Discussed are alternative options for evidence of AT effectiveness, recommendations on how to develop a useful and workable outcomes-reporting system to further demonstrate evidence of AT efficacy for AT funding, and pending and proposed federal legislative changes. Unless addressed, the lack of documented AT outcomes may limit future innovation as well as limit access to existing rehabilitation and assistive technologies for those who need it most.

Descriptor Scales

Evidence: 1 - Author(s) opinion
Consumer Orientation: B - Some data
Readability: III - High (Grade 12 or above)


Flagg, J. L. (2013). The Center on Knowledge Translation for Technology Transfer: Success stories and resources for R&D Practitioners. FOCUS Technical Brief (38). Austin, TX: SEDL, Disability Research to Practice Program.

Abstract: This FOCUS Technical Brief invites you to explore the materials and insights the Center on Knowledge Translation for Technology Transfer (KT4TT) has compiled from 2008–2013. We hope they help you to avoid the most common barriers and overcome the most perilous struggles along the Research and Development (R&D) path to successfully commercialize your sponsored project outputs. To that end, we describe the outputs from our own R&D projects.

Descriptor Scales

Evidence: 1 - Author(s) opinion
Consumer Orientation: B - Some data
Readability: III - High (Grade 12 or above)


Flagg, J. L., & Lockett, M. (2011). FOCUS Technical Brief (28). The Need to Knowledge Model: A Roadmap to Successful Outputs for NIDILRR Grantees.

Abstract: This FOCUS presents the Need to Knowledge (NtK) Model for new product development. The model was designed to encompass all activities from inception of a project through post-launch evaluation to paint a complete picture of the research, development, and production processes. This technical brief explains the details related to the model's stages and gates, while also introducing four specific opportunities to employ knowledge translation techniques.

Descriptor Scales

Evidence: 1 - Author(s) opinion
Consumer Orientation: C - No data
Readability: III - High (Grade 12 or above)


Flagg, J. L., Lockett, M. M., Condron, J., & Lane, J. P. (2015). Tools for analysis in assistive technology research, development, and production. Assistive Technology Outcomes and Benefit, 9(1), 20-37.

Abstract: This paper describes a development project intended to increase awareness and use of new product development (NPD) tools within a specific segment of new product developers: federally funded "technology grantees" who are charged with generating innovations that have socio-economic impacts. To achieve this end, the authors review the creation of a NPD tool repository, designed to improve grantees' ability to generate outputs that are relevant to industry partners and the marketplace alike. A recently established operational model for NPD, called the Need to Knowledge (NtK) Model, frames this work. Tools specifically concerned with the inclusion and accommodation of user characteristics, particularly those reflecting the principles of Universal Design, are highlighted in order to improve the accessibility of products in the marketplace for all users.

Descriptor Scales

Evidence: 1 - Author(s) opinion
Consumer Orientation: C - no data
Readability: III - High (Grade 12 or above)


Lane, J. P. (2010). FOCUS Technical Brief (26). Facilitating Technology-Based Knowledge Utilization.

Abstract: This FOCUS presents a framework for integrating two distinct processes: knowledge translation (KT) and technology transfer (TT). The integration permits stakeholders involved in technology-based research and development activities to identify and coordinate their respective roles, and to optimize the eventual use of research by industry for production purposes.

Descriptor Scales

Evidence: 1 - Author(s) opinion
Consumer Orientation: B - Some data
Readability: III - High (Grade 12 or above)


Lane, J. P. (2012). FOCUS Technical Brief (34). Tracking Evidence of Knowledge Use Through Knowledge Translation, Technology Transfer, and Commercial Transactions.

Abstract: This FOCUS extends ideas presented in No. 26, which considered the processes of knowledge translation (KT) and technology transfer (TT) in technological innovation. Here, we explain that both KT and TT contribute to accomplishing yet a third process—commercial transaction—which is the actual transformation of knowledge embodied in products and services into beneficial socioeconomic impacts. Planning, managing, and documenting the progression of knowledge use through the technological innovation pipeline culminates in an exchange of utility between the producers and consumers of knowledge through this market mechanism.

Descriptor Scales

Evidence: 1 - Author(s) opinion
Consumer Orientation: B - Some data
Readability: III - High (Grade 12 or above)


Lane, J. P. (2015). Bridging the persistent gap between R&D and application: A historical review of government efforts in the field of assistive technology. Assistive Technology Outcomes and Benefit, 9(1), 1-19.

Abstract: The United States government funds research and development programs to advance the state of technological innovations across many fields. One targeted field is assistive technology devices and services for persons with disabilities. Although these sponsored programs intend to benefit society, they channel most of their funding to university-based scholars. This approach leaves a gap between the specific project outputs (academic papers, patent claims), and their transformation into products, services and related outcomes capable of delivering beneficial socio-economic impacts. One participant/ observer recounts one government agency's efforts to bridge this gap over the past twenty-five years, by initiating projects addressing the transformational processes of technology transfer and knowledge translation.

Descriptor Scales

Evidence: 1 - Author(s) opinion
Consumer Orientation: B - no data
Readability: III - High (Grade 12 or above)


Lane, J. P., & Flagg, J. L. (2010.). Translating three states of knowledge--discovery, invention, and innovation. Implementation Science 5(9). doi:10.1186/1748-5908-5-9.     

© 2010 Lane and Flagg; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract: Knowledge Translation (KT) has historically focused on the proper use of knowledge in healthcare delivery. A knowledge base has been created through empirical research and resides in scholarly literature. Some knowledge is amenable to direct application by stakeholders who are engaged during or after the research process, as shown by the Knowledge to Action (KTA) model. Other knowledge requires multiple transformations before achieving utility for end users. For example, conceptual knowledge generated through science or engineering may become embodied as a technology-based invention through development methods. The invention may then be integrated within an innovative device or service through production methods.

Science and engineering focused on technology-based devices or services change the state of knowledge through three successive activities. Achieving knowledge implementation requires methods that accommodate these three activities and knowledge states. Accomplishing beneficial societal impacts from technology-based knowledge involves the successful progression through all three activities, and the effective communication of each successive knowledge state to the relevant stakeholders. The KTA model appears suitable for structuring and linking these processes.

Descriptor Scales

Evidence: 1 - Author(s) opinion
Consumer Orientation: C - No data
Readability: III - High (Grade 12 or above)


Lane, J. P., & Rogers, J. D. (2011). FOCUS Technical Brief (32). Knowledge Value Mapping of National Organizations: A Knowledge Translation Strategy to Efficiently Communicate Research-Based Knowledge to Multiple Stakeholder Audiences.

Abstract: This FOCUS describes the results from a series of comparative case studies exploring how selected national organizations, representing different stakeholder groups, can play an important role in communicating new research findings to diverse audiences. Knowledge value mapping helps understand the context of each organization's mission and the interests of their members.

Descriptor Scales

Evidence: 3 - Author(s) opinion
Consumer Orientation: A - Significant data
Readability: III - High (Grade 12 or above)


Leahy, J. A. (2011). FOCUS Technical Brief (30). KT4TT: Knowledge Translation Embedded in Technology Transfer.

Abstract: This FOCUS provides examples of how technology-focused grantees funded by NIDILRR, such as Small Business Innovation Research projects and Rehabilitation Engineering Research Centers, can embed knowledge translation (KT) efforts throughout the technology transfer (TT) process. This issue also describes the Product Utilization Support and Help (PUSH) Award in a broader context of knowledge translation.

Descriptor Scales

Evidence: 1 - Author(s) opinion
Consumer Orientation: B - Some data
Readability: III - High (Grade 12 or above)


Leahy, J. A., & Chau, T. (2013). FOCUS Technical Brief (36). Infinity Communication Access Lab Recognized With 2012 Product Utilization Support and Help (PUSH) Award.

Abstract: This FOCUS issue describes the exemplary knowledge translation work of the winner of this year's Center on KT4TT's 2012 PUSH Award. The recipient, Infinity Communication Access Lab, is a partnership between Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital and the Toronto District School Board in Toronto, Canada. The lab aims to discover person-centered access solutions and to ensure that those solutions are transferred into environments true to where children live and learn. Dr. Tom Chau oversees the lab, which serves 130 public school students with a range of developmental conditions.

Descriptor Scales

Evidence: 1 - Author(s) opinion
Consumer Orientation: B - Some data
Readability: III - High (Grade 12 or above)


Nobrega, A. R., Lane, J. P., Flagg, J. L., Stone, V. I. Lockett, M.M., Oddo, C., Leahy, J. A., & Usiak, D. J. (2015). Assessing the roles of national organizations in research-based knowledge creation, engagement and translation: Comparative results across three assistive technology application areas. Assistive Technology Outcomes and Benefit, 9(1), 54-97.

Abstract: Research and development projects funded by scholars and government agencies are increasingly expected to demonstrate evidence of impact resulting from their efforts. Scholars traditionally relied on passive diffusion to spread their study findings out among broader communities. However, scholars are now being held accountable and are required to actively support and track the post-output paths of their research projects. Therefore, they must reach non-traditional stakeholder groups extending beyond their scholarly community. Mapping the value systems of organizations representing diverse stakeholders (i.e. Knowledge Value Mapping) is explored as a means to improve knowledge translation, thereby increasing impact. This paper expounds upon a prior analysis conducted in augmentative and alternative communication to two additional assistive technology application areas: Recreational access and wheeled mobility. The purpose is to determine the extent to which the original findings can be generalized. Results indicate that 1) findings from the initial study are, in fact, generalizable to various assistive technology fields of application; 2) national organizations are an appropriate channel for translating and disseminating new research-based knowledge to diverse stakeholders; 3) national organizations engage with knowledge mechanisms at different levels and in different capacities. These results suggest that researchers should identify organizations representing the stakeholder groups most relevant to their own area of study, and then conduct the Knowledge Value Mapping process with those organizations to identify the best approach to knowledge translation.

Descriptor Scales

Evidence: 3 - Qualitative data
Consumer Orientation: A - A- Significant data
Readability: III - High (Grade 12 or above)


Schlosser, R. W. (2006). FOCUS Technical Brief (15). The Role of Systematic Reviews in Evidence-Based Practice, Research, and Development.

Abstract: This issue of FOCUS written by Ralf W. Schlosser, PhD, is part one of a three part series on the topic of evidence-based technology. This issue provides an overview of systematic reviews in research and development. Systematic reviews aim to synthesize the results of multiple original studies by using strategies that delimit bias. Systematic reviews can be used to inform evidence-based practice, which is increasingly shaping the disability and rehabilitation research field.

Descriptor Scales

Evidence: 1 - Author(s) opinion
Consumer Orientation: C - No data
Readability: III - High (Grade 12 or above)


Stone, V. I., & Lane, J. P. (2012). FOCUS Technical Brief (35). Modeling Technology Innovation: Combining Science, Engineering, and Industry Methods to Achieve Beneficial Socioeconomic Impacts Systematically and Deliberately.

Abstract: This FOCUS summarizes a paper recently published in the open-access journal, Implementation Science (Stone & Lane, 2012). The full paper presents a conceptual framework that integrates scientific research, engineering development, and industry production into a logic model format, which is useful for planning, obtaining, and measuring the impacts that result from implementing knowledge in practice (Lane & Flagg, 2010).

Descriptor Scales

Evidence: 1 - Author(s) opinion
Consumer Orientation: C - No data
Readability: III - High (Grade 12 or above)


Stone, V. I., Lane, J. P., Tomita, M R., Nobrega, A. R., Flagg, J. L., Leahy, J. A., Lockett, M.M., Oddo, C., & Usiak, D. J. (2015).Effectively communicating knowledge to assistive technology stakeholders: Three randomized controlled case studies. Assistive Technology Outcomes and Benefit, 9(1), 98-159.

Abstract: Knowledge Translation (KT) proposes to achieve expected benefits for end-users from funded research through effective communication of new knowledge aimed at increased uptake and use by stakeholders. This paper describes a series of three randomized controlled case studies assessing the comparative effectiveness of two interventions designed to communicate new knowledge to members of multiple stakeholder groups: tailor-and-target versus target-only approaches, as well as comparing them to a control condition of passive diffusion. The study participants’ level of knowledge use was measured as any of four levels: Nonawareness, Awareness, Interest, or Use, through the validated Level of Knowledge Use instrument. Changes from Pretest to posttest levels were analyzed both for statistical significance and for practical meaningfulness. Across the three studies both intervention were effective with the total samples as compared to control. However, they did not differ from each other suggesting that the added effort involved in tailoring new knowledge might be unnecessary as a general rule. Tailoring appeared to be more effective with some stakeholder types as results showed differential effects between stakeholder groups and across the three studies. The recipient of new knowledge remains the chief arbiter for determining level of use, meaning that relevance is as crucial as rigor in the context of increasing uptake and use of new knowledge from scientific research studies. New research is needed on effective ways for incorporating user needs into the knowledge generation process.

Descriptor Scales

Evidence: 4 - Randomized controlled trials
Consumer Orientation: A - Significant data
Readability: III - High (Grade 12 or above)


Vanderheiden, G. (2013). FOCUS Technical Brief (37). Lessons Learned in Technology Transfer from Dr. Gregg Vanderheiden and the Trace Research & Development Center.

Abstract: This FOCUS describes the exemplary technology transfer (TT) and knowledge translation (KT) work of the 2013 winner of the Center on KT4TT's Product Utilization Support and Help (PUSH) Award. The recipient is Dr. Gregg Vanderheiden and the Trace Research & Development Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Descriptor Scales

Evidence: 1 - Author(s) opinion
Consumer Orientation: B - Some data
Readability: III - High (Grade 12 or above)

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