Final FY 2018 budget increases Regional Innovation, MEP, NSF

With final passage and signage pending at the time of publication, the federal budget for FY 2018 provides relatively strong support for innovation economies. The Regional Innovation Strategies program is funded at $21 million, MEP at $140 million and the National Science Foundation at $7.8 billion, increases for all organizations. Other notable innovation programs receiving at least level funding are SBA’s cluster and accelerator programs, DOE’s ARPA-E, NASA science and the National Institutes of Health. Numerous stakeholders weighed in with Congress to preserve these priorities over the administration’s FY 2018 request — and FY 2019 faces the same challenges.

NSF recalibrates direction

The National Science Foundation’s new strategic plan argues that the U.S. must continue investing in world-class research, develop a globally competitive scientific and engineering workforce, and foster greater understanding of science and technology among the American public. However, the pressure of new priorities and level funding proposed for FY 2019 have yielded some surprising directions for the agency’s planned investments.

China gaining on US lead in S&T

The latest Science and Engineering Indicators from NSF’s National Science Board shows the U.S. share of S&T activities declining as other nations like China continue to rise. The report presents a wealth of data on how science and engineering R&D are tied to economic and workforce development, including indicators in education; workforce; R&D; industry, technology and the global marketplace; invention, knowledge transfer, and innovation; and public attitudes and understanding. The report includes an interactive data tool presenting U.S. state-specific trends in S&E.

After 4-years of decline, universities report increased federal R&D funding for FY 2016

For the first time in five years, federal funding for higher education research and development increased in both current and constant dollars, according to recently released data from the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics within the National Science Foundation. In FY 2016, universities reported $72.0 billion in total R&D expenditures, a 4.8 percent increase from FY 2015. Of this amount, more than half (54 percent) came from the federal government. Institutionally financed research represented 16 percent, the second largest source of R&D funds at universities in FY 2016.

NSF intends to commit over $12.7 million to support I-Corps teams

The National Science Foundation (NSF) released a new federal funding opportunity (FFO) for the Innovation Corps-National Innovation Network Teams program (I-Corps Teams). I-Corps team awards provide mentoring and additional funding to promising, NSF-funded researchers at institutions of higher education to accelerate innovation, attract subsequent third-party funding, and increase the commercialization of scientific discoveries. NSF intends to commit $12.75 million to support up to 255 I-Corps teams and proposals are accepted on a continuing basis.

NSF intends to hold a webinar to answer questions about the I-Corps Teams program. Details will be posted on the I-Corps website as they become available.

NSF finds gender inclusion benefit within programs

In a report of FY 2011-2016 data, the National Science Foundation finds that rate of female participants in its currently-funded Engineering Research Centers (ERCs) may be higher than for overall engineering programs. Specifically, participation among female faculty is better by about seven percent, by about 15 percent among female undergraduates, and a more modest 1-2 percent increase among doctorate students. This seems to be a significant gain in a field in which male Ph.D.-holders outnumber women 6:1 (per NSF data for 2015).

Business R&D performed in US increases

In 2015, businesses spent 4.4 percent more on R&D performed in the U.S. than they did in 2014, reaching $356 billion total, the NSF reports. Of the total R&D expenditures in 2015, companies spent $22 billion (6 percent) on basic research, $56 billion (16 percent) on applied research, and $278 billion (78 percent) on development.

NSF commits $80 million to four ERCs

For 32 years, the Engineering Research Centers (ERC) program of the National Science Foundation has provided long-term funding for university-industry-government collaborations focused on addressing specific, complex engineering challenges. The program can be an integral part of a state’s strategy to encourage stronger partnerships among universities and private industry. On September 12, NSF announced $80 million in funding for four more multidisciplinary centers, bringing the total number of ERCs funded since 1985 to 74.

Second set of NSF INCLUDES awards focuses on increasing STEM diversity

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has announced the recipients of 27 Design and Development Launch Pilots as part of its INCLUDES initiative. The initiative is aimed at enhancing U.S. leadership in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) discoveries and innovations through a commitment to diversity and inclusion. The 27 pilots feature public-private partnerships that will develop blueprints for broadening STEM participation and are funded through two-year, $300,000 grants. Although the vast majority of awardees are based at universities, the program attempts to engage partners from private and corporate philanthropy, industry, non-profits, K-12 school systems, federal agencies and scientific professional societies, and any other organizations affiliated with STEM. A key feature of NSF INCLUDES is its focus on uniting a wide variety of collaborators to generate pioneering solutions to persistent problems. These pilot projects will create an infrastructure that enables large-scale coordination and wider STEM participation.

USDA, NSF partner to support innovation in food, agricultural S&T

In partnership with the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the Innovations in Food and Agricultural Science and Technology (I-FAST) prize competition. I-FAST prizes will provide entrepreneurship training to National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) supported academic research with the goal of facilitating the technology transfer of valuable food and agricultural related product opportunities. NIFA will commit $400,000 to support up to eight prizes. I-FAST pre-applications are due September 8, 2017.


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