Could Open Innovation Be NASA's Window To Tomorrow?

To Infinity and Beyond!


There has been heated discussion about the impact of NASA’s decision to make its patent portfolio publicly available, cost-free, to all inventors and entrepreneurs. The implications extend far beyond potential investor profit, as this could change the world as we know it for virtually everyone, regardless of profession or location. 

Essentially, this move is a significant extension of the open innovation model that NASA has been developing for some time. Open innovation isn’t a model that NASA's been pioneering all on its own; both Tesla and Ford have also been entertaining open innovation as well.

Technology Transfer Program

Essentially, NASA’s momentum-building strategy has been to crowdsource private sector resources. Private-sector crowdsourcing could theoretically open up a brand new world of potential inventions that could introduce a new level of convenience in day-to-day life. The formal name for this innovative model is the Technology Transfer Program.

The Technology Transfer Program will not require any inventors or entrepreneurs to pay any fees for patent licensing up front. For the first three years, there will be no requirement for any minimum fees whatsoever. Ideally, this new initiative should allow various parties in both entrepreneurship and technological development to bring brand new ideas into life.

Potential innovations

NASA is still dedicated to the development of its space program initiatives, but it also continues to hold a considerable amount of influence on the enhancement of everyday living. NASA has developed a strong track record in introducing various new avenues for convenience for the average consumer, from memory foam to insulin pumps.

One of the most striking features of the patent portfolio includes an airplane that could navigate through atmospheric density levels equal to Mars. These projects will serve to be an exploration of just how effectively open innovation can be exercised under NASA’s IP, and different organizations will be heavily involved in seeing it through.


In terms of the everyday innovations that could be made possible by open innovation, one of the most notable categories has to do with propulsion. To date, propulsion has been recognized as one of the most swiftly-developing categories in the field of automatic space.

With electric propulsion technologies, spacecraft can be given the ability to freely switch between ion-thruster mode or hall-thruster mode, depending on whether thrust power or efficiency are the stronger priority.

Propulsion technology is primarily geared towards the higher development of rocket flight, though this can also be effectively applied to ground-based travel as well. 

Automotive development

Needless to say, there is a good chance that there are many ambitious inventors who are frothing at the bit to use what’s available in the public portfolio to make individual energy storage much more streamlined than before; the results of this possibility should prove to be very interesting.

Many different manufacturers have been heavily prioritizing the manufacturing of much cleaner-running vehicles. Naturally, the public portfolio could be tantalizing for various automotive organizations, such as Ford, that are interested in more investment in alternative fuel sources for vehicles.

Energy storage

Those who have closely followed Tesla, another proponent of open innovation, should be more than aware of the fact that one of the strongest points of focus in consumer technology is battery charging. Tesla has held a monopoly over the industry of battery charging for some time, though there is now the potential for NASA to level the playing field with the innovations made available in the public patent portfolio.

The public patent portfolio has already shown evidence of technology that can be successfully implemented in the development of hybrid vehicles. There is no denying that the market is currently very thirsty for there to be greater access to economical, easily-accessible storage solutions for home energy as well.

The bridge between NASA’s space initiatives and consumer convenience made possible through innovations in the portfolio is particularly apparent the potential benefits to international satellite internet technology.

Leveling the playing field

What many have wondered is whether or not effective application of NASA’s IP could potentially allow an individual inventor to rival Tesla in its market share for energy storage. Wherever the utilization of the patent portfolio may go, there is no denying that NASA has truly given many people the tools to further foster the technology of tomorrow.


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