By Vicki A. Barbur, Ph.D.
IP Management and Licensing
The MITRE Corporation
By Barry A. Costa
Director, IP Management and Licensing
The MITRE Corporation

INTRODUCTION

For some 60 years, MITRE has been a not-for-profit organization that focuses on advancing national needs by operating multiple Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs). MITRE conducts government-funded research, development, and engineering and serves as a “bridge” between federal agencies and the private sector. MITRE, with its two campus locations, is ideally suited to take advantage of the Massachusetts and Virginia innovation communities and bring emerging solutions to bear in support of the needs of our sponsors.

Newly created innovation bridges, incubators, and accelerators seek to engage in more collaborative approaches. These entities are similar yet different; for example, some are aligned with specific technologies, some are sponsored by companies, some are state funded, and some are taking an international scope. So how does MITRE extract value from the concepts being pursued in these innovation centers and leverage them to return value to its own customer, the Federal Government?

LEANING FORWARD

MITRE has engaged with many of these collaborative entities, largely catalysts for innovation, to help their companies mature and develop solutions that can also meet the needs of the U.S. government, as well as commercial industry. In addition, we have studied these various models to determine their value and concepts of operation.  There is no one overarching governance model nor a single portal to identify the various operating models, but we note that there are three main types of innovation operating models with which we engage.

  • Innovation Bridges. An Innovation Bridge provides a dedicated space for leadership forums and workshops, technology and venture capital portfolio scouting, and university research exchanges. Many Innovation Bridges also stage hackathons and crowd-sourcing opportunities, and host events to educate entrepreneurs about federal acquisition policies, including emerging simplified acquisition opportunities. The Innovation Bridge’s operations are underpinned by some deep technical expertise in areas critical to the nation, to the funding body, or to the sponsoring company. An Innovation Bridge is aimed at supporting businesses to innovate and grow.An example of an innovation bridge is the Massachusetts Innovation Bridge, emanating out of the Boston ecosystem, and representing a partnership between the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and MITRE (http://www.mass.gov/governor/press-office/press-releases/fy2016/mass-mitre-launch-the-massachusetts-innovation-bridge.html).
  • An accelerator generally takes start-ups at the very early stage and tries to condense two or three years of business acumen into a few months for the new company. Accelerators create an environment within which they give the startup team use of temporary office space – (often without charge) as well as training and access to administrative resources, business mentors, legal counsel, and accountants. The accelerator provides seed money, typically in exchange for a small portion of equity, and works to quickly elevate the startup to the point of attracting venture capital and angel investment.

MITRE has partnered with one of America’s premier cyber accelerators, Mach37 (https://www.mach37.com), a well-known accelerator with its roots in Northern Virginia, that accelerates some numerous start-ups each year.

  • An incubator is somewhat like an accelerator in terms of execution, yet offers more mature companies a longer timeline. An incubator supports start-ups with office space, administrative services, and mentorship resources for a monthly fee, equity, or a membership charge. Incubators typically require applicants to have a more developed business plan than an accelerator, and they may provide investment connections for the startups or make direct investment in them.

CREATING AN OPEN INNOVATION PLATFORM

MITRE pursues many “innovation bridging” activities that facilitate connections among innovative entities. The external entities benefit from MITRE’s decades of research and development expertise in a wide range of technical areas and its knowledge of government domains. Understanding how the government’s needs may vary from the public’s can shape new lines of business for these entities. At the same time, these collaborative relationships allow MITRE to connect government agencies with new technologies that could solve complex technical problems.  (NOTE: MITRE does not manufacture products and is a trusted advisor to the government, which helps it act as a bridge to industry.)

MITRE sees its interaction with Mach37, for example, as a great opportunity to find out about new technologies and consumer-driven products and services that might be of interest to our government sponsors. MITRE provides mentors to relevant start-ups, evaluates their solutions, educates the entrepreneurs about government markets, and helps them connect with government agencies.

Our goal is to find the best solutions to national problems, no matter where they originate, and rapidly get sustainable capabilities into our sponsors’ hands.

IN SUMMARY:

While MITRE has a robust, independent R&D program, innovation occurs around the globe and we are committed to leveraging the best industry technologies.  We advance our learning and add value to our services by leveraging external insights and seeking new opportunities to collaborate with innovators from industry, academia, and other organizations.  In the new innovation ecosystem, it is critical to rapidly leverage emerging capabilities wherever they come from.

Vicki A. Barbur brings dual expertise in science and business as well as broad experience in several technical disciplines to her overarching role as an innovative growth leader.

At the MITRE Corporation, she strategizes to make government investment in R&D accessible to sponsor organizations and the private sector with the overall goal of advancing economic development and contributing value to the nation. Her primary areas of focus are Health IT, Social Analytics, Cyber, Aviation and Transportation.

Her work at MITRE also includes streamlining the process for securing Intellectual Property and Licensing to allow external organizations and companies to put innovation to use quickly and developing collaborative and strategic partnerships through University/Academic Institutions, Innovation Bridges, Tech Hubs, Accelerators, and Incubators.

Previously, Vicki was Senior Vice President and Chief Technical Officer for Concurrent Technologies Corporation and Vice President, Research & Development for Cardinal Health.

Barry A. Costa leads MITRE’s efforts to manage their intellectual property and license their technologies to industry to optimally support the U.S. government, the nation, and the world.  He also leads their engagement with incubators, accelerators, and startups as well as angel, venture capital and private equity investors.

In his role as Director, IP Management and Licensing, Barry is  responsible for managing and licensing MITRE’s intellectual property—patents, technology, and expertise—and facilitating collaboration among researchers, academic institutions, and the federal laboratories interested in developing MITRE’s innovations. He helps put MITRE technologies into the hands of commercial companies that can make them available to our sponsors and the public as supported, affordable products.

Previously, he was Senior Principal Engineer and Principal Engineer, for the MITRE Corporation.