Governments are key drivers of product innovation. Funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), for instance, is helping governments try out innovative products on infrastructure projects, such as advanced materials for pavement rehabilitation and improved sensors for smart electric grids, reports Popular Mechanics.

Boston-based yet2.com, a company that operates an online technology marketplace and provides intellectual property consulting and licensing services, has assisted governments in finding innovative products.

"We've done several searches on behalf of government organizations — everything from anti-graffiti technologies for municipal transportation departments to fairly advanced military applications for the federal military," says Tim Bernstein, yet2.com's chief operating officer.

Bernstein's firm has helped client technology companies close several deals based on yet2.com's technology searches. Yet2.com's clients include manufacturers that represent more than 40 percent of the world's R&D capacity.

Yet2.com's online technology marketplace lists a variety of public sector technology needs, including a need for safe efficient water treatment and a need to generate biodiesel from waste fuel. Here's an example (with description) of a product in the yet2.com online technology marketplace that is applicable to the public sector:

DuPont Premium Playground and Landscape Mulch

The product can mimic wood mulch or take on novelty colors or shapes. Its cushioning properties meet or exceed ASTM standards for playground use.

DuPont has developed a polymer mulch suitable for playground and horticultural applications. Until now, natural or synthetic mulches have presented one or more disadvantages such as short life, possible presence of contaminants like metal fibers, easy displacement, unpleasant odor, and the ability to support fungus growth. The DuPont polymer mulch is long lasting and will not fade or rot. It is also completely contaminant free, with no risk of any metallic fragments, as occasionally found in shredded tire rubber mulches. Additional advantages over rubber mulch are its consistent, uniform appearance, no unpleasant odor and through-thickness color for long-term color retention. The mulch can be manufactured in a variety of colors, shapes and novelty decorative patterns, making it particularly attractive for playground applications. It also can be given a bark-like appearance for garden use.

Yet2.com hosts its 11th Executive Briefing — Open Innovation: Making a Step-Change Impact in Boston from May 17-19, 2011. It is a gathering where attendees can meet thought-leaders, decision-makers, and practitioners who are doing technology deals for their organizations. Specific location and details will be announced soon.

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