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Administration Highlights Advances in Science, Technology and Innovation Leadership (and an Update on America COMPETES)

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Greetings from D.C. As we begin the home stretch for the fall election, with a new administration on the horizon, it’s that time in the political cycle when folks will begin highlighting the good (and the bad, depending on your perspective) of the outgoing administration and what it did (or did not) accomplish. In that vein, the White House has just released an interesting report highlighting the Obama Administration’s actions supporting the nation’s science, technology and innovation (STI) enterprise during the last 7-plus years.

Impact Report: 100 Examples of President Obama’s Leadership in Science, Technology, and Innovation highlights 100 such actions ranging from specific policy decisions to structural changes within the science infrastructure of the Administration to personnel decisions designed to better facilitate the STI mission. They fall under a framework that includes categories such as: 1) expanding science, technology and innovation capacity and impact across government; 2) funding and incentivizing R&D; 3) promoting innovation nationwide; 4) strengthening STEM education and workforce training; 5) using STI to advance educational goals; 6) fostering industries and jobs of the future; 7) supporting entrepreneurship across America; 8) driving innovation in health care and the bioeconomy; 9) acting on climate change, advancing clean energy, and ensuring environmental quality; 10) unleashing the national potential of information, communication, and computing technologies; 11) reinvigorating America’s space program; and 12) engaging the world and ensuring national security.

The tech transfer community will recognize many of the underlying examples, particularly #36: “Accelerated the transition of research discoveries from lab to market.” Here the Administration points to some, though not all, of the activities collectively known as “lab to market” that were undertaken in the past few years—from the Presidential Memorandum on commercializing federal lab technology to expanding the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) I-Corps entrepreneurship training program to startup accelerator programs and challenges at several agencies.

Granted, this list and discussion could hardly be considered a purely objective view of the President’s support of STI (that will come later and from other sources), and some may disagree with the list or the success of the actions taken, but it does provide a fairly comprehensive overview of how the outgoing Administration viewed the importance of STI and how it chose to support that enterprise. 

Update on America COMPETES

In the June column I hinted that America COMPETES reauthorization legislation from the Senate was forthcoming. Well, it has arrived (S. 3084, American Innovation and Competitiveness Act). See the Senate press release here and track the bill here. As I noted in a recent Dispatch, the tech transfer community will be most interested in Titles IV, V, and VI. Under Title IV (Leveraging the Private Sector), there are sections on Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science, and Prize Competitions authority. Under Title V (Manufacturing), the focus is on the manufacturing extension program and other advanced manufacturing initiatives. Finally, under Title VI (Innovation, Commercialization and Tech Transfer), there are sections on NSF’s I-Corps and its translational research projects grant program.

Gary can be reached at gkjones.ctr@federallabs.org.

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