Federal Bio-Technology Transfer Directory Development

The Federal Bio-Technology Transfer Directory was designed to provide:

    • a reference source for competitive intelligence and technology assessment concerning federal research, development and commercialization activities.

    Primarily from experience with other publications, including the Federal Biotechnology Programs Directory and the Federal Biotechnology Information Resources Directory, published by OMEC International in 1987, and experience as information services manager for a large biotechnology company, the author (Ron Rader) presumed that there was a need and potential market for a directory and database providing access to "federal bio-technology transfer" (federal technology transfer in the biomedical/biotechnology areas). The success (or not) in the marketplace of the Directory, the only comprehensive resource in this area, will test this hypothesis.

    The Directory was designed to be by far the best reference source available concerning federal inventions and technology transfers in the biomedical, biotechnology and pharmaceutical areas. The Directory includes information about federal inventions, patent licenses and CRADAs; related research and development, strategic partnerships and commercialization activities; and the status of products and technologies in development and in the marketplace. Much of this information has never before been published and is not reported in any other sources--pharmaceutical or biotechnology newsletters, trade literature, abstracting/indexing services or even very expensive reference sources (e.g., PharmaProjects, R&D Focus).

    The Federal Bio-Technology Transfer Directory book was published in April 1994 and the database come online with full capabilities in mid-1996. Information for the Directory has been collected and compiled continuallysince 1991 involving over several man-years of effort. No funds or assistance (other than public information) were received from any federal or other sources.

    The Directory was developed following bibliographic standards and conventions suitable for its primary audience--sophisticated information users in the U.S. biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. Users were presumed to be knowledgeable in the life and biomedical sciences and familiar with the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. Conventional bibliographic, abstracting, indexing, chemical and biological nomenclature, database and other conventions practiced by biotechnology, pharmaceutical and patent information specialists were generally followed. Specific strain, cell line, organism and chemical substance nomenclature, culture collection deposit numbers, and other specific identifiers are included wherever available. The Directory was designed for ease of use so most users can use it instinctually. For intensive users and critical searches, a Users Guide and associated pages describe the its organization, contents, conventions and limitations.

    Information Sources

    - Essentially all public domain and other available information sources were used. The main information sources are:

    * Federal technology transfer offices and information gatekeepers - Various offices and contacts within federal agencies/labs are queried at least annually and cordial relationships were established with many, allowing for more frequent receipt of public disclosures. Considerable information was collected on floppy disk, the preferred method since it provided original text to be placed in the master Directory database; and a growing number of agencies/labs are making technology transfer disclosures through Internet Web sites and databases. Information was also collected at numerous federal technology transfer conferences.

    * Federal agency/laboratory publications and information resources - Information was collected from a wide range of federal sources including various agency/lab publications, directories, annual and progress reports, periodicals, brochures, press releases, handouts, Federal Register announcements, and other public domain sources. Thousands of federal invention disclosures were downloaded from the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) database on CD-ROM, and the last five years of NTIS abstracts of federal invention disclosures were manually reviewed (although it should be noted that NTIS covers only about 40-50% of federal biomedical/biotech inventions and coverage in recent years is even worse).

    * U.S. Patent databases - Patent abstracts and exemplary claims were retrieved and downloaded from the Automated Patent System (APS; or derivative databases) using the public access terminals at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO; Crystal City, VA), using PTO patent classifications, the APS code for federal government patent assignment and federal agency assignee names. Relevant sections of the weekly U.S. Patent Gazette are manually scanned. Commercial (copyright protected) patent and other databases, such as Derwent's World Patents Index (WPI), and foreign patent databases were not used (and Directory users should note that these are likely to provide additional and more recent patent status information, particularly concerning pending applications).

    * Biotechnology, pharmaceutical and technology transfer newsletters and references - This author is the publisher of the Antiviral Agents Bulletin, a monthly periodical specializing in antiviral drug and vaccine development, and is obliged to intensively follow the world's biotechnology and pharmaceutical research, development and commercialization activities. Numerous trade publications, references, directories and abstract periodicals are regularly examined, including those available at the FDA Medical Library and other local federal libraries. Technology transfer newsletters and company reports, press releases and other sources are also used extensively.

    Database Development

    All of the collected information resides in a FileMaker Pro (Macintosh version) database. The master database includes the fields in the Web database plus source material--APS patent abstracts/claims, NTIS and agency/lab invention abstracts, other disclosures obtained in computer-readable form and other manually input information. The online Web/purchasable database is about 16 megs as ASCII text.