AUTM Advocacy Update

Research Remains the Key for American Advancement 

By Mike Waring

June 17, 2020
With the coronavirus still moving around the world, the belief that science must move forward is receiving important attention in Washington.

Two pieces of legislation have been introduced in the past few weeks that focus on how we can both use science to solve big problems and how inventions stemming from that research can turn into new products and treatments for disease. And a recent from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has shown again the value of patenting to innovation. These initiatives provide strong support for the work tech transfer offices create every day across the country.

Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Todd Young (R-IN) – along with Reps. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) and Ro Khanna (D-CA) – recently introduced the Endless Frontier Act. This legislation would authorize a major expansion of the National Science Foundation by adding $100 billion over five years to create a new technology directorate focused on 10 key areas of research facing the nation, including artificial intelligence, high-performance computing and advanced manufacturing. In addition, the bill would provide $10 billion over five years to the Department of Commerce to create at least 10 regional innovation hubs. The bill also would put more money into tech transfer of key technologies to the marketplace.

Meanwhile, another bill (the FORWARD Act) led by Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Pat Roberts (R-KS),along with Reps. Suzan DelBene (D-WA) and Jackie Walorski (R-IN), is targeting improved access to the research-and-development tax credit and encourage American companies to invite in the development of new vaccines, countermeasures and technologies during the ongoing COVID pandemic. This legislation focuses on helping create more startups by increasing access to the R&D tax credit for small and medium businesses.

Finally, AAAS recently released a new study entitled “Public Research Investments and Patenting: An Evidence Review.” This study illustrates how US patents are increasingly connected with publicly funded research. Some may be more novel and have greater technological influence than others. The study also shows that public research investments can help catalyze additional innovation activity, particularly by small firms.  

All three of these initiatives show strong support for the work that universities and research foundations do to push forward cutting-edge research that can make a huge different in our nation’s health care, economy and national security. 

Now – more than ever – America needs science and the benefits it brings to help respond to these challenges.