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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Innovative Research

Volpe's Innovative Research Division is a one-stop shop serving the innovative research needs of the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT). This division oversees and coordinates five key programs:

  • Small Business Innovation Research Program
  • Exploratory Advanced Research Program
  • Innovative Research Solutions for Intelligent Transportation Systems
  • Technology Transfer Program
  • National Cooperative Research & Evaluation Program

Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program

One of eleven SBIR programs government-wide, the U.S. DOT SBIR program’s mission is to stimulate technological innovation by connecting the power of small business solutions with emerging federal research and development needs.

Volpe administers the SBIR program on behalf of the Secretary of Transportation and helps identify topics and solutions. Through SBIR, Volpe has awarded more than $78 million in small business funding over the last 10 years on behalf of U.S. DOT’s eight participating operating administrations.

Exploratory Advanced Research (EAR) Program

The Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) EAR Program focuses on longer-term, higher-risk research with a high payoff potential. The program addresses underlying gaps faced by applied highway research programs, anticipates emerging issues with national implications, and reflects broad transportation industry goals and objectives.

Drawing on its experience in facilitating cross-disciplinary, transportation-oriented teams and tapping into a broad range of in-house experts, Volpe supports the EAR Program with evaluation and research assessment, future topic scoping, and research transition support.

Innovative Research Solutions for Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS)

The Innovative Research Solutions for ITS program supports U.S. DOT’s response to the rapidly changing technological and social environments affecting transportation, including ITS.

Volpe supports the ITS Joint Program Office in strategy development, scope assessment, and the management of exploratory research in ITS using a mix of traditional and innovative approaches, such as artificial intelligence, location and referencing, imaging and sensing, and data analytics.

Technology Transfer (T2) Program

The T2 Program is responsible for coordinating technology transfer across the entire U.S. DOT with a mission to structure, expand, and accelerate technology transfer activities.

Volpe supports the T2 Program Office in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology with a broad range of assistance, including research and implementation process analysis, process design, and communication. Some of this work was published in a report on best technology transfer practices in transportation.

National Cooperative Research & Evaluation Program (NCREP)

Established by Congress, NCREP researches and evaluates priority highway safety countermeasures. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) jointly manage NCREP, with support from Volpe to implement research and evaluation projects. As part of this work, Volpe conducts research and oversees contracts focused on a variety of safety countermeasures.

Work with Us

Rachael SackFor more information on how to work with our team, please contact Rachael Sack, chief of Volpe's Innovative Research Division.



Featured Work

Lit up hexagonal solar roadway panels.
SBIR Success Stories

A graphic of two human heads made of gears with gears moving in between them.
For Research That Lives Beyond the Final Report, A New Tech Transfer Primer

A long stretch of flat highway in the Canadian Saskatchewan prairies.
Supporting Exploratory Advanced Research

Last updated: Wednesday, October 5, 2022