Contracts & Legal

Partnership Intermediary Agreement

A Partnership Intermediary Agreement (PIA) (15 U.S.C. §3715 ) is a contract, agreement, or memorandum of understanding with a non-profit partnership intermediary to bring together academia and industry on behalf of the government to speed up tech transfer and licensing.

Definition: Partnership Intermediary means an agency of a State or local government, or a nonprofit entity owned in whole or in part by, chartered by, funded in whole or in part by, or operated in whole or in part by or on behalf of a State or local government, that assists counsels, advises, evaluates, or otherwise cooperates with small business firms, institutions of higher education or educational institutions that need or can make demonstrably productive use of technology-related assistance from a Federal laboratory. (15 U.S.C. §3715 (c)) 

Partnership Intermediary Agreement (PIA) Purpose

The main purpose of a Partnership Intermediary Agreement is to help small businesses, universities, and the federal government work together for their own good.

Use by Federal Laboratories

15 U.S.C. 3715 gives federal labs the right to use partnership intermediaries. A federal lab is any laboratory, any federally funded research and development center, or any center established under 15 U.S.C. 3705 (Cooperative Research Centers) or 15 U.S.C. 3707 (NSF Cooperative Research Centers) that is owned, leased, or otherwise used by a Federal agency and funded by the Federal Government, whether it is run by the Government or

Use by The Department of Defense

Section 4124 of Title 10 of the United States Code says that Center Directors of Science and Technology Reinvention Laboratories (STRLs) can use PIAs.

Partnership Intermediary Agreement (PIA) Uses

Partnership Intermediary Agreement (PIA) activities include spin-in, spin-out, and dual-use activities. These activities help with the wide range of technology transfer functions across DoD entities. Some of the things that partnership intermediaries do are:

  • Patent and intellectual property (IP) management – helping with the creation and execution of licenses, as well as the creation or management of patents and the IP portfolio as a whole.
  •  Technology and market research – conducting technology and market landscape or forecasting studies to find out where certain technologies are going in the future and to give a broad understanding of how a particular technology domain or industry started and how it has grown.
  • Collaboration spaces – providing physical spaces near the DoD entity that serve as a place for researchers and businesses outside of the DoD to work together.
  • Collaborative Events: Technology demonstrations, showcases, industry days, design sprints, hackathons, workshops, and other events
  • Prize competitions – planning and running prize competitions • RDT&E collaboration agreements—supporting the development, coordination, and problem-solving activities that go along with RDT&E collaboration agreements
  • Prototyping and manufacturing capabilities – doing the prototyping, helping with the development
  • Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education and workforce—helping with STEM education and workforce development activities, such as organizing K-12 outreach events, facilitating or supporting the administration of internships with DoD entities or student scholarships, and developing the workforce pipeline to train and attract high-quality talent to DoD facilities.
  • Support for SBIR and STTR programs –helping the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs by doing technology scouting to find and recruit small businesses for these programs.
  • Business incubation – helping to make DoD technologies available to the public or adapting commercial technologies to meet DoD needs
  • Technology Access – Services will help the private sector get access to new technologies.

Partnership Intermediary Agreement (PIA) Restrictions

  • PIA agreements are limited to federal laboratories as defined in 15 U.S.C. §3715 and 10 U.S.C. §4124

Setting Up a Partnership Intermediary Agreement (PIA)

A contract or memorandum of understanding can be used to start a PIA. The contracting office of the agency and a warranted contracting officer may be involved, but they don’t have to be. The money for PIA can come from either general operating funds or money for technology transfer.

Partnership Intermediary Agreements with Other Transactions

Other Transactions and a Partnership Intermediary (PI) seem to go well together. PI’s job is to set up a network of businesses and universities with skills that are useful to the government organization they work for. Their outreach can be made to fit a certain project and goes beyond what is usually done when the government buys something. Their network may include companies that don’t usually do business with the government or that don’t want to do business with the government through a procurement contract because of the extra costs and rules that don’t help commercial companies. This fit is perfect for utilizing Other Transactions.

Outreach to PIs can be part of a government competitive process (see 10 U.S.C. 4022(b)) or can help set up multi-party or consortium agreements when a project needs a group of different organizations to work together. An OT agreement can help both types of relationships. When it makes sense, OTs can be done with competitive procedures. This is often the case. The agreement that comes out of this can be friendly to businesses and not full of terms and conditions that are usually required in procurement contracts. Agreements with more than two people can be set up in different ways. These relationships can be vertical, horizontal, or a mix of both. Instead of a relationship between a prime contractor and a subcontractor, there can be more than one signatory on a multi-party OT agreement.

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