Passage of CHIPS+ Bill a Huge Victory for Tech Transfer

Mike Waring
AUTM Advocacy and Alliances Coordinator

With the signature of President Biden, the CHIPS and Science Act becomes law. And with it comes hopeful opportunities for technology transfer to move to the next level of providing even greater benefits to the American people. Included in the legislation is an authorization of $3.1 billion to support technology transfer capacity building for research institutions.
This monumental legislation took more than a year to move through the Senate and House.  The massive bill focused on providing a major infusion of capital to ramp up the nation’s computer chip manufacturing capacity and compete with China and other countries, as well as bolster the economy and national security.
Thanks to the work of AUTM leadership and key Association Members, key provisions to support tech transfer were included in the Senate bill known as the “United States Innovation and Competitiveness Act” (USICA) that passed last fall.  These provisions would, for the first time ever, allow the National Science Foundation (NSF) to create programs that could directly fund technology transfer, and to invest in the people, facilities and research capacity needed to expand and improve the process.
The House of Representatives took a different approach in its version of the bill, which did not directly address technology transfer and was passed earlier this year. The two bills were then sent to a conference committee to be ironed out.
The Senate revised its original bill, keeping in support for tech transfer programming. One day after this smaller bill in July passed the Senate, the House followed suit.  This landmark legislation has the potential to transform the work that universities and other non-profit research entities do to turn inventions into new products, drugs and technologies that change the world.
To be clear, the law itself carries no direct funding. The legislation, an authorization, allows NSF to initiate these and other programs.  Now it’s up to Congress to provide NSF funding for FY 23, which would provide the resources to begin offering grants and other tech transfer benefits. If we’re to see the full benefit of this opportunity, AUTM Members and non-members alike need to encourage their university government relations officers to push for funding.
Bottom line: this legislative victory would not have occurred without AUTM’s strong support.