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Technical Assistance

PATH/NIST Evaluation Initiative Prepares Innovators for the Marketplace

The adage "fail to plan, plan to fail" is a familiar one. But where is a small and under-capitalized business innovator to go when he or she needs help evaluating a product's potential? With PATH support, the Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology is working on an answer - helping the National Evaluation Service/Building Innovation Center (NES-BIC) create an affordable, independent evaluation service.

The project, administered by NIST's Building and Fire Research Laboratory, provides funding and technical support to NES-BIC to develop a partially subsidized fee system for a program that will allow innovators to determine evaluation requirements for their products. Innovators participating in the new NES-BIC program will also be able to have their technologies evaluated, and reports developed so that they can distribute this important information to target audiences in the design and construction industry.

A technical assessment committee composed of representatives of NES-BIC, the Department of Energy, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, NIST, the NAHB Research Center, and others will develop criteria and a plan for selecting small innovators.

Under the PATH supported product evaluation plan, NES-BIC staff will meet with the innovator to discuss the scope of the proposed evaluation, including the possible review of applicable regulatory requirements and other market critical performance information. Staff will also discuss the proposed application of the technology and the applicants' specific performance objectives. A preliminary assessment of the need for an expert panel to devise a comprehensive product evaluation plan will be made jointly. If a panel is needed, likely technical issues of the evaluation also will be identified to determine the composition of the panel.

The Building and Fire Research Laboratory (BFRL) also will help NES-BIC recruit key representatives from the user community, academia, industry and other private sector organizations to serve on a multi-disciplinary expert panel to help develop a generic evaluation plan of same type technology. The panel will identify key technical and marketing issues, as well as outline the scope and requirements for evaluating a technology and review NES-BIC's draft evaluation.

BFRL is also providing funding and technical assistance to NES-BIC to enhance its outreach program and website. The website programs will be expanded to allow exchange of information on specific technologies between staff and the "expert" panel. The new management software will cut the time needed to evaluate technologies by enabling users to regularly monitor specific technologies, as well as determine and eliminate bottlenecks.

For more information regarding this NIST/PATH program, the NIST contact is Joel Zingeser: (301) 975-4032, email:

PATH media contact: John G. Blair, (202) 708-4277,