NSF expands its advanced materials network with nine new centers

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is expanding a network of research centers across the country to translate university-based R&D into new, and hopefully, better advanced materials. In late June, NSF announced the distribution of $162 million to support the creation of nine more Materials Research Science & Engineering Centers (MRSECs), bringing the total number of centers to twenty. Each of the new centers will receive $18 million over six years.

Congress moves erratically on budget, tax issues

The House and Senate are working toward FY 2024 appropriations, but not even a negotiated agreement has kept the chambers moving in the same direction. Today, the Senate appropriations committee directed its subcommittees to produce bills that align with the slight reduction in non-defense spending agreed to in the debt ceiling agreement reached earlier this month. However, after House Freedom Caucus members revolted over the agreement, the House appropriations committee decided to direct its subcommittees to produce bills  that cut another $119 billion from the level agreed to as part of the debt ceiling deal.

NIST Announces staff for CHIPS R&D Office, potentially three future institutes

Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Director Laurie E. Locascio announced five leaders joining the CHIPS Research and Development Office within CHIPS for America.

Innovation landscapes: The changing role of corporate research

Corporate laboratories were hotspots for U.S. innovation for most of the twentieth century. Large firms, such as DuPont or Bell Labs, acted as epicenters for research and development activities, driving investment in frontier technologies underserved by university researchers at the time. By the 1980s, however, many of these powerhouses of industrial research began to cut back on their research programs, paving the way for universities and startups to emerge as new centers of innovation.

Concerns raised about 2017 tax law’s impact on industry R&D

While the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 was passed more than five years ago, many businesses seem to be just discovering the effects of one of its sections this tax season. The law stipulated that, for tax years beginning in 2022, companies could no longer choose to expense their entire “research and experimentation” costs in one year and must instead amortize those cost over five years (with a half year look-back). The result is posing a threat for companies with limited, or non-fungible, cash flow. Congress displayed broad support for restoring the original rule but failed to pass the change during the previous session. The question on many people’s minds is, “what happens now?”

OSTP report sets the stage for nationwide biotech innovation

A new report compiled by The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) outlines a whole-of-government approach to biotechnology and making it a national priority. The report lays out bold goals over two decades for biotech R&D, calling for an increase in agricultural productivity by 28% in the next decade and reducing food waste and loss by 50% by 2030.

Who is winning the global technological competition?

Western democracies are losing the race for scientific and research breakthroughs, and the ability to retain global talent, integral ingredients in developing technologies, according to a recent report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI). In the project funded by the U.S. State Department’s Global Engagement Center and a grant from The Special Competitive Studies Project, ASPI says that their research reveals that “China has built the foundations to position itself as the world’s leading science and technology superpower, by establishing a sometimes stunning lead in high-impact research across the majority of critical and emerging technology domains.”

NSF announces new $60 million program for academic institutions to scale the translation of research

The U.S. National Science Foundation announced a new $60 million investment led by NSF's Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships — the Accelerating Research Translation, or ART, program. The program will build capacity and infrastructure at higher education institutions that are needed to strengthen and scale the translation of basic research outcomes into impactful solutions and practice.

Microbusinesses performed $5.6 billion of US R&D in 2020

Microbusinesses (businesses with 1-9 domestic employees) spent $7.5 billion in both domestic and foreign R&D expenditures or costs in 2020, of which $6.7 billion was in the U.S. Of this total, $5.6 billion was performed by microbusinesses themselves, according to the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) and data from the Annual Business Survey (ABS). The $5.6 billion performed by U.S. microbusinesses in 2020 shows over a $1 billion increase in domestic R&D performed by microbusinesses themselves as compared to 2018.

Breakdown of federally financed higher-ed R&D for FY 2021

A previous Digest article gave a broad overview of the most recent survey of Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) for FY 2021 (the most recent data available), including a breakdown of what field of studies receive the most R&D funding. The survey showed that the federal government funds the bulk of higher-ed R&D, and looking at each of its agencies can shed light on investment priorities. Within the federal government, Health and Human Services (HHS) funded the most higher-ed R&D activities by far (approximately $27.5 billion), followed by the Department of Defense (DoD; $7.4 billion) and National Science Foundation (NSF; $5.4 billion). A bulk of HHS funding went toward the life sciences ($24.2 billion), with engineering following behind at approximately $1 billion. DoD primarily funded engineering ($3.7 billion), followed by life sciences ($1.4 billion).


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