JPL Entrepreneurs

JPL Entrepreneurs

The JPL Office of Technology Transfer (JPL OTT) works closely with JPL innovators at every step of the technology transfer process, and provides the resources and expertise needed to engage the commercial sector and establish partnerships. JPL OTT aims to inspire and nurture a culture of innovation, bridging JPL research with its practical use for public benefit by providing key resources in developing technology intellectual property portfolio, finding talent and capital for the new venture. The JPL innovator is the key to successful technology transfer, and OTT assures that innovators and prospective entrepreneurs will have the maximum chance of success by encouraging them to engage with the office at the earliest stages of process, and then supporting them throughout the commercialization process.

JPL OTT can help researchers manage intellectual property protection, enter into intellectual property agreements with startup and existing companies, make introductions to potential business partners and/or mentors, and shepherd them through technology transfer process, including the Ethics Office processes. OTT collaborates and works very closely with the relevant organizations at JPL and Caltech to provide incentives, infrastructure, and resources to achieve the important goals of advancing the nation's technology base and economic prosperity through the commercialization of innovations by the JPL technical community of innovators. For JPL innovators, this technology transfer infrastructure provides the resources they need to transfer the products of their research programs into commercial use, while providing increased visibility, value, and demonstrated relevance of NASA programs and innovators' research.

New Ventures and Technology Transfer Guidance

We actively support our entrepreneurial researchers through our New Venture Office, strong intellectual property protection, information, mentoring, guidance, and networking. Startups are frequently the best avenue for early stage technology commercialization and may require the active involvement of the JPL scientists and engineers in order to launch. This guidance document is intended to provide entrepreneurs at JPL who wish to start or support a new venture based on technology developed at Caltech/JPL ("JPL Entrepreneurs") the information that they need to move forward with their startup in accordance with Caltech/JPL policies.

Process for New JPL Ventures

The process for JPL Entrepreneurs wishing to become involved in a new startup based on Caltech/JPL technology is as follows:

  1. JPL Entrepreneurs are invited and encouraged to first discuss ideas for their new venture with the Office of Technology Transfer at JPL ("OTT at JPL", JPL Entrepreneurs may enter into discussions concerning intellectual property protection and licensing, obtain feedback on their business concepts, and access other entrepreneurial resources such as the New Venture Office, networks of attorneys, accountants, lab and office space, and funding.

  2. The JPL Entrepreneur should then meet with their line manager and discuss their new venture concept, their anticipated involvement in their venture, and any conflicts that might arise in their activities with their venture. OTT at JPL can facilitate meetings with the JPL Entrepreneur's line management.

  3. It is the responsibility of the JPL Entrepreneur's Line Manager and/or supervisors to be mindful that it is the policy of Caltech and JPL to encourage the spin-off of technology into the private sector, and to accept such oversight as part of their supervisory responsibilities. The Stevenson-Wydler Act Innovation Act states: "Technology transfer, consistent with mission responsibilities, is a responsibility of each laboratory science and engineering professional. Each laboratory director shall ensure that efforts to transfer technology are considered positively in laboratory job descriptions, employee promotion policies, and evaluations of the job performance of scientists and engineers in the laboratory".

  4. The Ethics Office should then be consulted to determine how to comply with the rules concerning Outside Employment, Consulting, and Other Activities. The JPL Entrepreneur may need to submit an Application for Outside Employment (JPL Form 0747R, 1/97). OTT at JPL can also facilitate the meetings with Ethics Office.

  5. The JPL Entrepreneur will write a short proposal ("New Venture Proposal"), which includes the nature of the business and a research management plan that addresses how any potential conflicts will be managed.

  6. The startup firm may then enter into an Option Agreement (an option to license intellectual property to the JPL Entrepreneur's startup) in order to assist in raising funds to start their new venture. It is important for the JPL Entrepreneurs to have submitted all relevant new technology to JPL in the form of NTRs at this point.

  7. Finally, the JPL Entrepreneur's line management and the Ethics Office will review and approve the Application for Outside Employment and the research management plan in the New Venture Proposal, making any necessary changes.

New Venture Proposal Template

If you have any questions about the above process, or if you would like to get started, please contact Dan Broderick (, 4-1314).


Site Manager: Dan Broderick

Webmaster: James Ray