DC Dispatch

DC Dispatch - December 22, 2016

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American Innovation and Competitiveness Act Passed (Sent to the President – Some language on tech commercialization)

The Senate and House have now passed: the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (S. 3084) and it should be on its way to the President’s desk for signature (pending as of the time I write this blurb).  From Senator Gardner’s press release (he introduced the original bill), “[T]he U.S. House of Representatives today followed the U.S. Senate’s action and approved the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act, a bicameral, bipartisan legislative compromise originally introduced by Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Gary Peters (D-MI), along witz John Thune (R-SD), and Bill Nelson (D-FL), that maximizes basic research opportunities, reduces administrative burdens for researchers, encourages scientific entrepreneurship, and promotes oversight of taxpayer-funded research. The legislation promotes diversity in STEM fields, incentivizes private-sector innovation, and aims to improve manufacturing. It most directly affects programs within the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).”  The bill incorporates multiple House bills passed during the recent session (see the House Science, Space and Technology Committee press release), including the America COMPETES Reauthorization bill.  See also a post by AIP on the same topic.

Highlights of the bill can be found on Sen. Gardner’s press release above, but includes provisions under overarching topic headings such as Maximizing Basic Research; Administrative and Regulatory Burden Reduction; Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics; Leveraging the Private Sector; Manufacturing; and Innovation and Technology Transfer.

Select areas of potential interest to the tech transfer community highlighted in the press release (and bill) include:

Incentivizing private-sector innovation (by updating prize competition authority to encourage greater participation in federal prize competitions), 

Bolstering scientific research (by authorizes the I-Corps program to help scientists move their research from the laboratory to the marketplace), and

Reaffirming the importance of commercialization (by directing NSF to continue awarding translational research grants and strengthening public-private cooperation).

(Original Sources: congress.gov web site, Senator Gardner’s web site, House SST web site)

2017 National Defense Authorization Act Passed

(Sent to President – Reauthorizes SBIR/STTR)

Both the House and Senate have passed: the 2017 NDAA (expected to be signed by the President), that authorizes and sets policy for defense programs at the Defense and Energy Departments, including defense R&D.  From a summary blurb in AIP, “[T]he NDAA establishes policy for the Department of Defense as well as for national security-related activities in the Department of Energy.  With yesterday’s vote, Congress has now successfully passed a new version of the bill every year for the past 55 years.  Each year’s NDAA contains numerous provisions and line-item funding authorizations that concern R&D and defense technologies.”  The summary post highlights implications of the 2017 NDAA on defense R&D programs (DOD and DOE/NNSA), but also includes reauthorization for five years for the SBIR/STTR programs across all R&D agencies – leaving the set-aside unchanged.  (Original Sources: AIP web site)

Status of FY Budget

(CR through April 28, 2017) 

Congress has passed and the President signed: a continuing resolution to fund the government through April 28, 2017.  From a post by AAAS (focusing per usual on the R&D component of the budget), “[C]ongress passed a continuing resolution (CR) to avoid a government shutdown and extend last year’s government funding levels until April 28, 2017.  The CR (H.R. 2028) … conforms to the fiscal 2017 cap of $1.07 trillion, as expected. … The legislation includes $872 million for programs prioritized by the 21st Century Cures Act of 2016, the sweeping biomedical innovation and reform bill that also passed last week [Note: that bill has now been signed into law].  NIH programs covered by that bill include the Administration’s Precision Medicine Initiative, the Cancer Moonshot, the BRAIN Initiative, and regenerative medicine.  These programs together received an extra $352 million – with cancer research receiving the lion’s share – while the Food and Drug Administration received another $20 million.  … The CR contains few other science-specific provisions.”  See also a post on the same subject by AIP.  (Original Sources: AAAS web site, AIP web site)

New from NSF

Federal R&D Funding, by Budget Function: Fiscal Years 2015–17 contains information on “the budget authority of U.S. federal agencies to fund research and development and R&D plant in FYs 2015–17.  FY 2015 data are agencies' actual budget authority.  FY 2016 data (preliminary) are estimates.  FY 2017 data are the funding levels proposed by the president's U.S. government budget for that year. (Final legislation on federal spending in FY 2017 had not been enacted by the president and Congress by the time of report release.)  Two tables provide year-to-year time series data on actual federal budget authority for R&D by broad function back to FY 1955.” (Note: as mentioned, this report was released 24 hours after the CR was signed)  (Original Sources: NSF web site)

Federal Budget Authority for R&D Continued to Move Upward in FYs 2015 and 2016, with a Further Increase Proposed for FY 2017 indicate that “federal budget authority for research and development and R&D plant together totaled an estimated $149.0 billion (current dollars, preliminary data) in FY 2016, an increase of $10.5 billion (7.5%) over the FY 2015 level.  This follows a $2.4 billion increase (1.8%) in FY 2015 and a $3.7 billion increase (2.8%) in FY 2014. In FY 2017, the president's proposed budget for the federal government calls for $153.9 billion in funding for R&D and R&D plant, a $4.9 billion increase (3.3%) from the previous year.”  (Note: this report preceded the CR for FY 2017) (Original Sources: NSF web site)

Doctorate Recipients from U.S. Universities: 2015 provides “detailed tabular statistics from the 2015 Survey of Earned Doctorates, an annual census of doctorate recipients from U.S. universities.  Tables show important trends in this population—including the representation of women, minorities, and foreign nationals; emergence of new fields of study; time to complete doctoral study; and employment opportunities after graduation.”  (Original Sources: NSF web site)

For Fun – Top Patent Law Stories of 2016

If you’re interested in hearing: about the “top patent law stories of 2016”, you can find a link here to a free webinar on January 18 covering that topic.  (Original Sources: Patently0O blog)


Note:  The DC Dispatch is a periodic update of selected items of interest to the FLC and technology transfer community -- i.e., current legislation, trends, reports, policy and other developments potentially affecting technology transfer or related activities -- designed to keep the community informed of relevant issues on a timely basis.  Information is gleaned directly from a variety of sources (newsletters, email alerts, web sites, direct participation at events from the FLC DC Representative’s office, etc.) -- with original sources, contacts and links provided.

Contact: Gary K. Jones, FLC DC Representative, gkjones.ctr@federallabs.org

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