DC Dispatch

DC Dispatch - March 4, 2016

DC Dispatch

House Sets ST Priorities for 2016

The House Science, Space and Technology Committee has indicated: where its focus will be during FY 2016 (already underway of course). As summarized by AIP, “[T]he priorities of the committee majority in 2016 include continued focus on transparency and accountability of federal research, directorate-level funding for the National Science Foundation, and sustained funding for NASA space missions. Alternatively, the committee’s minority members are prioritizing an overall increase in and stability for federal research and development funding. … Among the majority’s … top priorities for the year: designation of specific funding levels for [NSF’s] research directorates, including cuts to NSF Geosciences and Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences; increased support for basic research, including in advanced supercomputing and the physical sciences, across the science agencies; decreased funding for Biological and Environmental Research and a partial restoration of recent cuts in Fusion Energy Sciences at the [DOE] Office of Science; and maintenance of recent funding increases for NASA Exploration, Planetary Science, and Heliophysics, with a reduction in funding for Earth Science.” The summary comes from the recently released “Views and Estimates of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology”, which is not binding and represents only the positions and agenda of the Republicans on the committee. See the Democrats position here. (Original Sources: AIP web site, House SST Cmte web site).

House Passes Research in National Interest Act

The House has now passed: the controversial “Scientific Research in the National Interest Act (HR 3293) (highlighted in earlier Dispatches). From an article in AIP, “[O]n Feb. 10, members of the House vigorously debated and voted on controversial legislation sponsored by House Science Committee chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) that would require the National Science Foundation (NSF) to justify in writing that every grant or cooperative agreement it funds is ‘worthy of Federal funding’ and ‘in the national interest,’ according to seven specific definitions included in the bill. Following debate, the House voted 236 to 178 to approve [the bill] mostly along party lines. Since Smith introduced the measure last July, the scientific community has delivered a range of responses, ranging from strong opposition … to non-response. The bill has proved divisive in the House, provoking a vigorous debate in committee last fall and on the floor earlier this month. Smith has forged ahead despite resistance. Leading opponents include House Science Committee ranking member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), physicist and Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL), and the President’s science advisor and physicist John Holdren, and other senior administration officials, who issued a statement indicating they would advise the President to veto the legislation.” (Original Sources: AIP web site, congress.gov web site)

Senate Hearing on Changes to IP Legislation

The Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship held a hearing: recently titled “An Examination of Changes to the U.S. Patent System and Impacts on America’s Small Businesses”. Chairman Vitter (R-LA) noted in his opening remarks that “[O]ur conversation today will focus on whether the patent litigation abuse problem demands a major rewrite of our patent laws or if the changes taking place are having the desired effect, specifically with regards to small businesses…. Patent reform is needed [re patent trolls particularly]. However, before Congress jumps to overhaul the entire system, the extent of necessary reform needs to be clarified. Today, we are here to revisit the question: How do we address patent reform while protecting innovation and not impose negative consequences on small businesses and entrepreneurs? The first step is to examine exactly how recent changes, court decisions, and other Judicial Conference changes have impacted our small businesses and universities.” IP-Watchdog has provided a detailed summary of the hearing (testimony and discussion). See the hearing web site link for all opening remarks. (Original Sources: Senate SB&E Cmte web site, IP-Watchdog web site)

NSF Funding Solicitation for I-CORPS

NSF has just released: a solicitation “to build upon the established National Innovation Network (consisting of I-Corps Nodes and Sites) to further support the needs for innovation research, education and training.” From the program solicitation, “[NSF] is seeking to expand and sustain the network of I-Corps Nodes that work cooperatively to support the development of innovations that will benefit society. The interconnected nodes of the network are expected to be diverse in research areas, resources, tools, programs, capabilities, and geographic locations - providing the network with the flexibility to grow or reconfigure as needs arise.” NSF is committing $8.5 million to this solicitation. Letters of intent are due March 10. (Original Sources: NSF web site)

Brookings Article on Start-Up Accelerators
(FLC 2015 Keynoter highlighted)

The Brookings Institute has published: an article focused on start-up accelerators. From the article, they note “[A]s startups begin to proliferate beyond the traditional technology centers, regional and national leaders are increasingly looking to these companies as a source of economic growth. … Accelerators have become increasingly popular elements of the regional growth infrastructure, and are viewed as playing a key role in the scaling-up of growth-oriented entrepreneurial ventures—including by federal, state, and local government.  For those reasons, they are worthy of assessment.” The article defines and discusses the use of accelerators in the U.S. Brad Feld, FLC 2015 keynoter, provides some thoughts via a video link in the article. (Original Sources: Brookings web site)

Demographics of U.S. Innovation

ITIF has released: a report indicating that “the demographics of U.S. innovation are different not only from the demographics of the United States as a whole, but also from the demographics of college-educated Americans—even those with Ph.Ds. in science or engineering.” Selected highlights from the report’s Executive Summary, note that immigrants comprise a large and vital component of U.S. innovation (e.g., more than one-third of U.S. innovators were born outside the U.S., even though this population makes up just 13.5 percent of all U.S. residents); there is a striking gender split among innovators (e.g., women represent only 12 percent of U.S. innovators); minorities born in the U.S. are significantly underrepresented (e.g., U.S.-born minorities make up just 8 percent of U.S.-born innovators – while these groups constitute 32 percent of the total U.S.-born population); innovators in the U.S. are experienced and highly educated, and most hold advanced degrees in science and technology fields (e.g., four-fifths of innovators possess at least one advanced degree, and 55 percent have attained a Ph.D. in a STEM subject).” See the full report here and related infographic here. (Original Sources: ITIF web site)

Venture Capital by State

SSTI has prepared: charts showing US venture capital activity and per capita investment by state for the period 2010-2015. From their post, “[M]ore than three-quarters of U.S. venture capital dollars went to companies in California, New York and Massachusetts in 2015, according to data from the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)/National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) Moneytree Report. California companies received over 57 percent of all U.S. investment, about 0.5 percent down from the state’s peak in 2014. Both New York and Massachusetts received about 10 percent of U.S. dollars. Washington, the state with the fourth highest share, trailed far behind at 2.1 percent. California and Massachusetts also both led in venture capital dollars per capita, taking in about $860 and $841 per resident, respectively. Massachusetts continues to lead the nation in deals per capita, with about 6.5 per 100,000 residents.” You can link to their chart from the article. (Original Sources: SSTI web site)


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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