The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Technology Transitions (OTT) recently launched the second Energy Program for Innovation Clusters (EPIC) Prize. The EPIC Prize recognizes the nation’s most innovative incubators in the field of energy. EPIC awards cash prizes to regional incubator teams that submit the most creative and impactful plans, then implement those plans to develop strong clusters, connections, and support for energy startups and entrepreneurs. A total of $4 million is available for multiple awards. For more information about EPIC and how to apply see the program FAQ. Proposals are due by October 25, 2022.
The Department of Commerce appointed 24 members to the Industrial Advisory Committee (IAC), an advisory body providing guidance to the Secretary of Commerce on a range of issues related to domestic semiconductor R&D. The Department emphasized in its release announcing the appointment that the new IAC will not select recipients of federal financial assistance under the CHIPS & Science Act, including semiconductor manufacturing incentives.
The Industrial Advisory Committee was established by Congress in 2021 by the William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act of 2021 (FY 2021 NDAA). According to the Department, the IAC “will provide advice on the science and technology needs of the nation’s domestic microelectronics industry, the national strategy on microelectronics research, the research and development programs and other advanced microelectronics activities funded through CHIPS for America, and opportunities for new public-private partnerships.”
The committee comprises leaders from across the microelectronics field, including academia, industry, federal laboratories, and other stakeholders. The committee will be chaired by Mike Splinter, former CEO of Applied Materials, and Susan Feindt, a fellow and executive at Analog Devices, will serve as vice-chair.
The U.S. National Science Foundation announced a new $20 million investment in Entrepreneurial Fellowships through a multi-year cooperative agreement with Activate.org. The Activate Fellows supported by NSF will be scientists and engineers from a variety of backgrounds and regions across the U.S. who will translate research breakthroughs to new products and services with broad societal benefits.
The Entrepreneurial Fellowships will help make entrepreneurship more accessible for people in less-developed innovation ecosystems, expanding geographic diversity and increasing participation of women and others who have been traditionally underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Over two years, Entrepreneurial Fellows will receive training and at least $350,000 in direct support, plus access to specialized research facilities and equipment through Activate. The fellows will advance their prototypes, refine their business models, build their teams, and secure follow-on funding. The initiative will be run by Activate.org, a nonprofit organization that launched the entrepreneurial fellowship model with the Cyclotron Road program at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and has partnered with U.S.-based funders and research institutions to grow the approach.
The initiative includes three possible pathways for scientists and engineers to participate:
Activate Anywhere — A connected, yet not co-located, community of fellows that allows for any qualified scientist anywhere in the country to benefit from Activate fellowship support and leverage the concentrated resources of traditional innovation centers where Activate has in-residence offerings.
A New Activate In-residence Community — A new in-person location that expands physical communities beyond Activate’s existing locations ensuring that a regional hub exists for any fellow across the country who wants to be in-residence, and to strengthen the national base of resources that any fellow across the network can leverage.
Pre-doctoral Translational Research Experience — A new mechanism aimed at expanding opportunities for diverse talent and overcoming racial imbalance in the science innovation ecosystem by supporting pre-doctoral scientists and engineers and exposing them to nascent science-based startups under the mentorship of Activate’s network.
To learn more about Entrepreneurial Fellowships including how to apply, visit https://www.activate.org/apply.
The Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable will convene a webinar to discuss a recent report on The Role of Engineering to Address Climate Change by the Engineering Research Visioning Alliance (ERVA). ERVA visioning events enable the engineering research community to identify opportunities and priorities for high-impact research that addresses global and societal change. This report focuses on specific research directions through which engineering can effectively be used to mitigate the impact of climate change.
The event’s Thematic Task Force, comprised of academic, corporate, and non-profit experts, was responsible for the content planning. During this webinar, the co-chair of the Thematic Task Force, Bruce Logan, Director of the Institutes of Energy and the Environment at the Pennsylvania State University; and ERVA co-PI, Anthony Boccanfuso, President and CEO of University-Industry Demonstration Partnership, will present on the identified research priorities and key recommendations in the report, and will discuss the engineering research community’s role in enabling convergent and inclusive climate solutions.
Tim Clancy of Arch Street was a guest on a recent episode of the ChinaTalk podcast on The Science of the “Chips + Science Bill” where he discussed the recent CHIPS and Science Act and how the often overlooked science provisions of the legislation could have a profound impact on the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.S. science and engineering enterprise overall. He was joined by hosts Jordan Schneider and Jacob Feldgoise and Tobin Smith, Senior Vice President for Science Policy & Global Affairs at the American Association of Universities (AAU).
The federal government is making a big push in quantum information science or QIS research across all major research agencies.
Quantum technologies could transform key industries and launch future industries, but fundamental research roadblocks remain with most experts predicting it will take 5-10 years at least before the U.S. produces a functional quantum computer. At the moment, QIS technologies are remain experimental and will need substantial advances in hardware and software to unlock their potential.
New federal QIS research investments were kickstarted by Congress in 2018 with the National Quantum Initiative Act. The legislation established a quantum consortia led by the National Institute of Standards and Technology; Quantum Leap Challenge Institutes by the National Science Foundation; National Quantum Information Science Research Centers by the Department of Energy; and greater interagency coordination of federal QIS research and development.
QIS presents major implications for both U.S. national and homeland security. Concerns have been raised about the potential for a quantum computer being able to break public-key cryptography — the bedrock of cybersecurity for critical infrastructure, national security systems and everyday digital devices. President Biden recently issued National Security Memorandum 10 outlining the potential threats and opportunities posed by QIS advancements. The memorandum states: “a quantum computer of sufficient size and sophistication — also known as a cryptanalytically relevant quantum computer (CRQC) — will be capable of breaking much of the public-key cryptography used on digital systems across the United States and around the world,” The memorandum outlines specific actions for agencies to take as the United States begins the multi-year process of migrating vulnerable computer systems to quantum-resistant cryptography, stating: “while the full range of applications of quantum computers is still unknown, it is nevertheless clear that America’s continued technological and scientific leadership will depend, at least in part, on the nation’s ability to maintain a competitive advantage in quantum computing and QIS.”
Recognizing the potential and the threats stemming from QIS, Congress has also increased investments in QIS for national security. Across the Department of Defense, budget requests for quantum-related programs increased 37 percent between fiscal years 2020 and 2022. Recently the Air Force Research Laboratory in Rome, N.Y., was named the Quantum Information Science Research Center for the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force. AFRL also received an additional $8 million to conduct research and development in QIS at the adjacent Innovare Advancement Center which allows for research collaborations with academic and industry partners in an unclassified laboratory setting.
The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFoSR) is sponsoring a three-day workshop on advances in quantum information science (QIS). The workshop will be held at the Innovare Advancement Center in Rome, New York adjacent to the AFRL Information Directorate (Rome Laboratory). The event is at the unclassified level and registration is open to all. To register click here
The Regional Innovation Engines (NSF Engines) program is a new initiative of the U.S. National Science Foundation. The goal of NSF Engines is to catalyze innovation ecosystems across the United States to advance critical technologies, address societal challenges, nurture diverse talent, and promote economic growth and job creation. With the potential for each Engine to receive up to $160 million for up to 10+ years, the program supports the development of regional coalitions, spanning academia, industry, nonprofits, government, civil society, and communities of practice, to engage in use-inspired research, translation of research results to society, and workforce development. The NSF Engines seeks to harness the Nation’s geography of innovation, unleashing a new era of innovation and competitiveness for the U.S. For more detail see: https://beta.nsf.gov/funding/initiatives/regional-innovation-engines
The NSF has sponsored several webinars and regional briefings for potential stakeholders and interested proposers. These information sessions are found on the NSF Technology, Innovation & Partnerships (TIP) YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLGhBP1C7iCOnQhfxpyk4ZY9-qoqI4dar_
Thirty years ago, Congress sought to advance federal investments in high performance computing HPC and communications. The result was the HPC Act of 1991 which has expanded in scope and evolved over the years into the Networking and Information Technology R&D (NITRD) Program. Under the NITRD program, overall federal IT R&D investment have grown from less than $5 million in 1991 to nearly $7.8 billion requested for FY2022.
The 1991 legislation established a mechanism to coordinate and plan R&D efforts among federal agencies and sectors. This helped extend and expand the federal investments in networking and information technology (NIT) and maintain America’s world leadership in these areas. Through the NITRD process, Federal agencies exchange information; collaborate on research activities such as testbeds, workshops, strategic planning, and cooperative solicitations; and focus their R&D resources on common goals of making new discoveries and/or developing new technology solutions to address our Nation’s most critical priorities. This includes advanced networking technologies (including wireless), artificial intelligence, big data, cybersecurity, health IT, information integrity, networked physical systems, privacy protection, robotics, and software.
What is the current state of science and engineering in the United States? How healthy is the U.S. STEM labor force? What is the level of U.S. investment in R&D across various sectors? How does the U.S. compare internationally in science and technology (S&T)? These are the types of questions addressed by the biennial report produced by the National Science Board — United States Science and Engineering Indicators — through the presentation of key quantitative measures of R&D, STEM education and workforce, and economic competitiveness.
On April 20, 2022 the Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable of the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine will convene a webinar to discuss the 2022 Indicators report, which was released in January. The webinar will feature representatives of the NSB and the National Science Foundation who will discuss the report’s findings in relation to STEM education at all levels; the STEM workforce; U.S. and international research and development performance; U.S. competitiveness in high-technology industries; and invention, knowledge transfer, and innovation. The session will also include comments from Dr. France Córdova, former NSF Director and President of the Science Philanthropy Alliance, to discuss the Indicators data within the context of philanthropic contributions to science.
The session is free and open to the public but registration is required. To register click here.