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Changes to ATP Announced

July 11, 1997

U.S. Secretary of Commerce William M. Daley announced several changes to the Advanced Technology Program (ATP) yesterday. The changes came as a result of a Department study reviewing the ATP. A number of the changes are designed to increase the role of the states in the program.

The first change called for in the Secretary's report is to "encourage state participation in ATP awards." As a means of encouraging state participation in ATP awards, the program will allow joint ventures to be led by states and state-sponsored non-profits. The selection process will give weight to the "business commercialization plan" part of the criteria to post-ATP "value-added" that can be provided by state technology development organizations.

The change is intended to help meet ATP's goal of encouraging prompt diffusion of ATP-fostered technologies into the economy through closer ties with state-supported organizations, which can provide assistance to companies after the completion of the ATP project. Typical roles for such an organization might include acting as a joint-venture administrator or providing post-project support in the development and commercialization of the technology. The change should also help to build stronger ties between the ATP and state science and technology programs, helping promote a greater supply of high-quality proposals.

Highlights of other changes include:

  • Pursuing the creation of the proposed Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Technology (EPSCoT), which is designed to build technology development and diffusion in the eighteen states that have traditionally been under-represented in federal R&D funding. As a program designed to assist states in developing a technological infrastructure, EPSCoT may ultimately enable additional sources of high-quality proposals to ATP competitions.
  • Shift the priorities of the program, putting more emphasis on joint-ventures and consortia, and more emphasis on small and medium-size single applicants, with less emphasis on individual applications from large companies.
  • Increase the cost-share ratio for large (Fortune 500) single applicant companies to 60 percent, discouraging but not eliminating, such applications. This provides a further incentive for large companies to participate in joint ventures. It should also help meet a goal of maximizing small and medium-size company participation in the single applicant pool.
  • Work with the private sector venture capital community to (1) ensure that ATP does not fund projects which can be wholly supported by private capital, and (2) provide a mechanism to transition successful, completed ATP projects by small companies to private-sector funding for further development and commercialization.

"The changes seek to create a stronger and more viable program, while preserving the fundamental mission of the ATP. They also ensure that the ATP continues to be a wholly merit-driven program based on peer review," according to a Department of Commerce statement.

In most cases, the changes can be implemented by ATP, although a few will require Congressional action.

The changes to the ATP come just weeks after the Secretary signed a Memorandum of Understanding that establishes him as the Federal Co-Chair of the United States Innovation Partnership (USIP), which seeks to involve governors in the development of technology policies that stimulate economic growth, high quality jobs, and globally competitive businesses by promoting innovation in the American economy.