SPIE celebrates continuation of America COMPETES Act

Dec. 29, 2010
Bellingham, WA--SPIE leaders are among researchers, engineers, and others in the science and engineering community celebrating the passage of the America COMPETES Act of 2010.

Bellingham, WA--SPIE leaders are among researchers, engineers, and others in the science and engineering community celebrating the passage of the America COMPETES Act of 2010. The bipartisan approval by the US House of Representatives of the act as amended by the Senate authorizes $46 billion to continue important basic research, technology innovation, and science education programs for an additional three years.

"We are delighted to see continued strong support for the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Standards and Technology," said SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs. "We are also happy to see approval for both continued and new spending for Department of Energy (DOE) research, and support for ARPA-E (Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy)," Arthurs said. "This is a vital step in building a vigorous innovation pathway, linking the excellent R&D produced by DOE and other agencies to successful commercialization and the creation of jobs."

"Strong bonds between industry and research universities are crucial to effectively applying the promise of science to the implementation of real-world solutions. New support provided by the act for innovation clusters, science parks, workforce development, and science, technology, engineering, and math education will strengthen those bonds," said MJ Soileau, Chair of the SPIE Engineering, Science and Technology Policy Committee, and Univ. of Central Florida VP for Research and Commercialization. Soileau noted that the act’s new green initiatives at NIST and elsewhere in the Department of Commerce, for manufacturing, construction, and jobs, will help the nation create solutions with long-term positive impacts on the economy and the environment.

The bill includes $7.4 billion in new spending above 2010 levels, and directs a shift in emphasis away from basic research and development toward commercialization, market development, and green initiatives.

Arthurs expressed some caution in welcoming the bill’s passage. While today’s House vote authorizes continuation of the COMPETES programs at key science agencies, actual funding for COMPETES must be approved separately in appropriations bills that are not expected to be voted on before February. The actual amounts appropriated for various programs may be less than authorized. Also, while the original America COMPETES Act was passed in 2007, the bill was not specified in an omnibus funding bill for the next fiscal year, so programs were not funded accordingly. The legislation is based on recommendations outlined in the "Rising Above the Gathering Storm" report released by the National Academy of Sciences in 2005.

SOURCE: SPIE; http://spie.org/x43902.xml

Posted by:Gail Overton

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