We Made the Papers!

Nature story headlineTim Clancy, President of Arch Street was interviewed by the prestigious science journal Nature regarding the proposed FY 2021 federal science budget released by the President yesterday.

Nature quote 2021 budgetFor example, the 2021 request for the National Science Foundation is not a good one with large cuts being proposed, similar to prior administration requests.  The budget released on Monday, February 10 would cut NSF support for fundamental research by nearly 8%.  While Congress has rejected prior proposed cuts and provided modest increases, this not be possible this year as the overall federal budget top line for FY 2021 is essentially flat.  Given that both the administration and key congressional leaders are calling for increases in priority research areas such as artificial intelligence and quantum information science, any research not in these fields may get squeezed even further.  

Energy Innovation Series — Storage & Battery Technologies 

A new series of public discussions at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington DC seeks to foster greater understanding of and support for the role of innovation in the energy system.  The series will be conducted in cooperation with the Department of Energy (DOE), Office of Technology Transitions and comprise of five public events focused on specific categories of energy technology. T

The series will consist of five public events highlighting the innovation occurring in different energy technology areas and a final wrap-up discussion of the innovation ecosystem at large. The technology areas are storage and battery technologies; grid infrastructure, software, and cybersecurity; carbon dioxide management; advanced nuclear and fusion; advanced transport beyond electric vehicles. Each session will feature a representative from a national lab, an independent researcher, and a representative of the private sector working on innovation in each technology area. In addition, each discussion will highlight the technology area’s route from laboratory testing to demonstration or pilot projects to commercialization and market deployment.

The project will kick-off with a dialogue on Innovation in Storage and Battery Technologies on February 20, 2020.  The session will be webcast.


With China’s Rise, the U.S. is No Longer the Uncontested R&D Leader



For decades the United States has been the clear global leader in research and development.  A new report by the the National Science Board indicates that this is no longer the case.  The report, the State of U.S. Science and Engineering 2020  is mandated by Congress and provides information on the state of the U.S. science and engineering (S&E) enterprise over time and within a global context.  The major takeaway from the report has been the sharp rise of R&D investments in China relative to a slower or even declining R&D levels in the United States depending on the category.  For example, the share of U.S. R&D funded by the federal government has declined.  This means a relative drop in critical early-stage basic research, particularly at colleges and universities and government laboratories.

According to the report, global research and development expenditures have more than tripled since 2000, growing from $722 billion in 2000 to $2.2 trillion in 2017, fueled largely by growth in China. The U.S. and China together accounted for nearly half of all research and development spending — 25 and 23 percent, respectively — in 2017.

In the U.S., federal spending for research and development has increased since 2000, but the share of research and development funded by the federal government — as opposed to businesses or other entities — declined, from 25 percent in 2000 to 22 percent in 2017. Among higher education institutions — which perform the largest amount of basic research, of which the federal government is the primary funder — the share of research and development funded by federal sources declined from 57 percent in 2000 to 51 percent in 2017. ​

Webinar: DARPA’s Ocean of Things Program

GUIRR logoDARPA’s Ocean of Things Program
Thursday, January 30, 2020; 1:00-2:00 p.m. ET

The Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable of the National Academy of Sciences will host a webinar to discuss DARPA’s Ocean of Things program, which seeks to enable persistent maritime situational awareness over large ocean areas by deploying thousands of small, low-cost floats that could form a distributed sensor network. Each smart float would contain a suite of commercially available sensors to collect environmental data, such as ocean temperature, sea state, and location- as well as activity data about commercial vessels, aircraft, and even maritime mammals moving through the area. The floats would transmit data periodically via satellite to a cloud network for storage and real-time analysis.

The discussion will be led by John Waterston, program manager for the Ocean of Things program about the future of cost-effective, real-time monitoring of maritime activity.

There is no cost to this webinar, but registration is required.  Register here:  DARPA’s Ocean of Things Program

Legacy Costs Threaten Cities and Towns in U.S. Manufacturing Regions

Here at Arch Street we dislike the term “Rust Belt”.

View from Arch Street

Rust Belt MapHere at Arch Street we dislike the term “Rust Belt”.

But alas, old terms die hard, just as do preconceptions of what is happening in this region spanning the Northeast and Midwest. Having been engaged in tech-based economic development in the Northeast for over 30 years, we know that this term does not adequately describe the changes occurring in places like Utica, New York or Erie, Pennsylvania.  Regardless, small cities and towns especially are under severe threat due to high legacy costs (pensions, infrastructure) and dwindling population and tax bases.  A recent study by the Manhattan Institute is stark in its assessment:

Rust Belt cities’ legacy cost burden will continue to weigh on them just as much as will their legacy of industrial decline.  Costs associated with both bonded debt and retirement-benefit liabilities will reduce scarce funds available for existing services and future improvements. It is doubtful that Rust Belt…

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U.S. GAO Releases Guide for Designing Technology Assessments

GAO TA HandbookThe U.S. Government Accountability Office’s Technology Assessment Design Handbook [PDF] was released in December, 2019.  It identifies tools and approaches to use in the design of robust and rigorous technology assessments (TAs). The handbook underscores the importance of TA design, outlines the process of designing TAs, and describes approaches for mitigating selected TA design and implementation challenges . While the primary audience of this handbook was GAO staff, other organizations engaged or interested in TAs will find portions of this handbook useful.

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