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NIH Looks to Streamline Commercialization

Mark Marich

The National Institutes of Health is launching a new web portal aimed at streamlining the federal government’s technology transfer process. If successful, the site could reduce response time for unpatented materials from six months to a few days.

The electronic Research Materials catalogue (eRMa) can help tap the work of more than 6,000 researchers at NIH labs through internal use licenses. Examples of materials include mouse models used to develop new cancer therapies and cell lines used to test new therapies for chronic diseases, such as high blood pressure. An NIH internal use license is a contract that governs the transfer of tangible research materials from NIH to a company for commercial research use.

According to NIH, the new system will streamline the licensing process by:

  • Providing a website for companies to find and license unpatented materials using a ready-to-go contract.
  • Allowing a company to pay online through and receive the materials from the lab quickly.
  • Providing faster turn-around time and simplifying the process for companies to find research materials available from NIH labs.

eRMa was designed and developed by the Office of Technology Transfer (OTT) at NIH which administers approximately $97 million annually in royalty payments from about 500 companies that reported product sales of approximately $6 billion last year. It was also supported by the NIH's National Cancer Institute Center for Cancer Research.

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