Arch Street on NSF Funding, Senate Tech Legislation

Tim Clancy, President of Arch Street was quoted in the June 3 edition of Chemical and Engineering News on potential new funding for the National Science Foundation and a proposed new NSF technology directorate as envisioned by the US Innovation and Competition Act (S.1260), previously the Endless Frontier Act.

The new legislation and a companion House bill would expand NSF funding of advanced technology and development and push the agency to adopt a “strong program manager” funding model utilized by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). This would be significant shift of philosophy for the NSF which has focused on basic, fundamental research selected through rigorous peer review with program managers playing a facilitating role. In the NSF budget request for Fiscal Year 2022, the Biden Administration has proposed the creation of a new NSF technology directorate as well as additional funding for regional innovation activities focused on critical technologies such as advanced manufacturing and semiconductors.

Webinar: Small Business and Entrepreneurial Innovation at the NIH

Grants and Funding logo

WHAT: Webinar on Healthcare Innovation and the NIH

WHEN: Thursday, May 27, 2021; 1:00-2:00 p.m. ET

The National Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine’s Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable (GUIRR) will host a webinar on Small Business Education and Entrepreneurial Development (SEED) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Developing products across the biomedical spectrum requires NIH’s collaboration with universities and research institutions, small businesses, trade associations and societies, angel investors, venture capitalists, and strategic partners. The SEED office leads initiatives that develop these relationships and assist NIH innovators to further their product development efforts.

SEED director Matthew McMahon will give an introduction to NIH programs and services that accelerate biomedical innovation and increase diversity throughout the NIH innovator community.

Registration is free and can be accessed here: NIH SEED Webinar

New NIST Draft Guide Released on Cybersecurity for Distributed Energy Resources

NIST NCCOE

The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST’s) National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE) has published for comment a preliminary draft of NIST SP 1800-32, Securing the Industrial Internet of Things: Cybersecurity for Distributed Energy Resources. The public comment period is open until May 24, 2021.

In the practice guide, the NCCoE applies standards, best practices, and commercially available technology to protect the digital communication, data, and control of cyber-physical grid-edge devices. The guide demonstrates an example solution for monitoring and detecting anomalous behavior of connected industrial internet of things (IIoT) devices and building a comprehensive audit trail of trusted IIoT data flows.

New AI.Gov Web Presence Launched

The Biden Administration has launched a new web presence for ai.gov the National Artificial Intelligence Initiative (NAII).

The NAII was established by the National Artificial Intelligence Initiative Act of 2020 (NAIIA) – bipartisan legislation enacted at the beginning of, 2021. The legislation directs the President to sustain and support various AI R&D, education, workforce, and outreach initiatives including trustworthy AI, as well as support international R&D cooperation in AI with key allies.

Congress also establishes the National Artificial Intelligence Initiative Office (NAIIO) to coordinate and support the NAII. The NAIIO is tasked to:

  1. Provide technical and administrative support to the Select Committee on AI (the senior interagency committee that oversees the NAII) and the National AI Initiative Advisory Committee;
  2. Oversee interagency coordination of the NAII;
  3. Serve as the central point of contact for technical and programmatic information exchange on activities related to the — AI Initiative across Federal departments and agencies, industry, academia, nonprofit organizations, professional societies, State and tribal governments, and others;
  4. Conduct regular public outreach to diverse stakeholders; and
    Promote access to technologies, innovations, best practices, and expertise derived from Initiative activities to agency missions and systems across the Federal Government.

The National AI Initiative provides an overarching framework to strengthen and coordinate AI research, development, demonstration, and education activities across all U.S. Departments and Agencies, in cooperation with academia, industry, non-profits, and civil society organizations. The work under this Initiative is organized into six strategic pillars – InnovationAdvancing Trustworthy AIEducation and TrainingInfrastructureApplications, and International Cooperation.

Event: Expanding Congressional S&T Assessment and Analysis Capacity

On Wednesday, March 17th at Noon, the DC Chapter of the Technology Transfer Society is sponsoring a briefing on the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s efforts to expand Congress’s capabilities in science and technology (S&T) analysis and assessment. Since the demise of the Office of Technology Assessment in the 1990’s, Congress has lacked robust in-house analytical capability to effectively analyze new scientific and technological advances. Rapid developments in S&T are transforming multiple sectors of society. Like all technological change, these developments bring both opportunities and the potential for unintended consequences. The ability of Congress to understand, evaluate, and prepare for such changes is critical for the United States to remain secure, innovative, and globally competitive.

In January 2019, GAO created the Science, Technology Assessment, and Analytics (STAA) team to build on and expand its decades-long work providing Congress with S&T analysis. STAA is a large interdisciplinary technical team that advises Congress, generates policy options, and informs legislation on topics in the computational sciences (such as artificial intelligence and advanced data analytics), physical sciences (such as sustainable chemistry and nuclear waste management), life sciences (such as epidemiology of emerging infectious diseases and biosurety of Select Agents), and engineering (such as IoT, 3D printing, and hypersonic systems).

Dr. Tim Persons and Dr. Karen Howard of GAO will discuss STAA’s history, organization, and its technology assessment portfolio.

Click here to register

U.S. Not Ready to Defend or Compete in the A.I. Era, Commission Concludes

Recommends an urgent, comprehensive, whole-of-nation action. The result: a 900-page hybrid mixture of national security policy and technology competitiveness recommendations.

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The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI) issued its final report on Monday, March 1st, 2021 framed by the great power competition between the United States and it’s allies and China. Commissioners called on the United States to drastically reorient government functions including its national security and technology apparatus to meet the coming national security challenges and opportunities of A.I.. The report is broken into two parts: Part I “Defending America in the AI Era,” and Part II “Winning the Technology Competition,” Both parts are interlinked and the commissioners emphasized that the United States stands to lose it’s technical advantage over geopolitical rivals within the next 10 years.

The 900-page report is a hybrid mixture of national security policy and technology competitiveness recommendations. Part I outlines what the United States must do to defend against the spectrum of AI-related threats from state and non-state actors and recommends how the U.S. government can responsibly use AI technologies to protect the American people and our interests. Part II outlines AI’s role in a broader technology competition and addresses critical elements of the competition and recommends actions the government must take to promote AI innovation to improve national competitiveness and protect critical U.S. advantages.

Part I recommendations:

  • Defend against emerging AI-enabled threats to America’s free and open society.
  • Prepare for future warfare.
  • Manage risks associated with AI-enabled and autonomous weapons.
  • Transform national intelligence.
  • Scale up digital talent in government
  • Establish justified confidence in AI systems.
  • Present a democratic model of AI use for national security.

Part II recommendations:

  • Organize with a White House–led strategy for technology competition.
  • Win the global talent competition.
  • Accelerate AI innovation at home.
  • Build a resilient domestic base for designing and fabricating microelectronics.
  • Protect America’s technology advantages.
  • Build a favorable international technology order.
  • Win the associated technologies competitions.

Critical Infrastructure: Supply Chain Risk, Semiconductor Shortages

The White House announced a new initiative on securing the supply chain in several critical infrastructure sectors including Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API’s) necessary for medicines to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, rare earth minerals, advanced batteries and, semiconductor chips & advanced packaging.

The executive order will order an immediate 100-day review by federal agencies to assess vulnerabilities in these areas as well as a broader one-year review of supply chain risks across several critical infrastructure sectors including the defense industrial base; the public health and biological preparedness industrial base; the information and communications technology (ICT) industrial base; the energy sector industrial base; the transportation industrial base; and supply chains for agricultural commodities and food production.

A growing problem is a world-wide shortage of key semiconductor chips in several industries including automotive manufacturing. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, both Ford and General Motors have had to slow or suspend production lines due to chip shortages.

While the planned Executive Order will not alleviate the immediate crunch in semiconductor supply, the Administration and leaders in Congress have begun work on legislation to spur new investments in domestic semiconductor manufacturing.

Innovation Lagging in U.S. Defense Industrial Base

A recent report from the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) found that innovation is lagging in the U.S. defense industrial base.

According to the NDIA, innovation has declined sharply since 2018 driven by a substantial decline in average annual patent applications. Basic research investments have been stagnant leading to decline of new ideas in the R&D pipeline and an erosion of innovation overall. The report notes;

“The decreasing level of innovation inputs and outputs coming from scientific R&D services industries, typically focused on basic research, is a key driver of the overall decline in the innovation system.”

Vital Signs 2021, The Health and Readiness of the Defense Industrial Base

On the bright side, the U.S. share of global R&D investment ticked up in 2020 but the long term trend remains down. Also DoD innovation funding including research, development, testing, and evaluation (RDT&E) and concurrent SBIR funding have continued to increase since 2018.

AFRL Webinar:  Research Opportunities for HBCU and MSI Researchers 

On Tuesday, February 16th, the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) will be hosting a webinar on opportunities for researchers at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority Serving Institutions (MSI’s).  The event is an opportunity for researchers from these institutions to learn about funding, partnership, and career opportunities available through AFRL and AFOSR.

To register, go to:  AFOSR Engage: HBCU/MI and Special Programs

Biden Challenges Incoming Science Advisor: Five Questions on Science in the National Interest

On January 15, 2021, U.S. President-Elect Joe Biden nominated geneticist Dr. Eric Lander to be his Science Advisor and head of the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy (OSTP). Concurrently, the President-Elect also announced he would elevate OSTP to cabinet-level, a first since the position was created in the early-1970’s.

In a letter to Dr. Lander [PDF] released at the time of his announcement, President-Elect Biden asked five specific questions on how science can and should benefit the nation. Citing the questions posed by Franklin Roosevelt to his science advisor, Vannevar Bush in 1944 that resulted in Bush’s landmark report, Science: The Endless Frontier, Biden asked five specific questions on how science can meet the challenges of the 21st Century. Biden asked that Dr. Lander should call on the entire U.S. science enterprise to make recommendations “on the general strategies, specific actions, and new structures that the federal government should adopt to ensure that our nation can continue to harness the full power of science and technology on behalf of the American people“.

The five specific questions put forward by the President-Elect are:

  1. What can we learn from the pandemic about what is possible—or what ought to be possible—to address the widest range of needs related to our public health?
  2. How can breakthroughs in science and technology create powerful new solutions to address climate change—propelling market-driven change, jump-starting economic growth, improving health, and growing jobs, especially in communities that have been left behind?
  3. How can the United States ensure that it is the world leader in the technologies and industries of the future that will be critical to our economic prosperity and national security, especially in competition with China?
  4. How can we guarantee that the fruits of science and technology are fully shared across America and among all Americans?
  5. How can we ensure the long-term health of science and technology in our nation?