When Senators Take Home Innovation MVP Awards, AUTM Wins Too

Mike Waring
AUTM Advocacy and Alliances Coordinator

The AUTM Board hosted a reception on Capitol Hill on September 13 to present the second annual Innovation MVP Awards to two senators whose support for technology transfer—and appreciation of AUTM’s expertise and perspective—was crucial to Congress passing the Chips and Science Act last fall.

That legislation authorized funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF) to launch new technology transfer programs, starting with the Accelerating Research Translation (ART) program. That program just announced the first tranche of grant awardees, and the NSF has hopes to award another cohort of university-led teams in the FY 24 budget year.
Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, was one of those recognized by the AUTM leadership at the event in Washington. Cantwell was personally involved in discussions with AUTM about the need for language in the Chips and Science Act authorizing funding specifically to increase opportunities for academic technology transfer, particularly at smaller and minority serving institutions.

“AUTM was great at giving us ideas for what really would help with building capacity,” Cantwell said in her remarks at the event. Later, she followed up with a social media post that said, “Your important work is helping America become an innovation engine firing on all cylinders.”
Also recognized by the AUTM Board as an Innovation MVP was Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS), the ranking Republican on the committee, for his support of the Chips and Science Act and tech transfer.
“Senator Wicker understands that without the support of technology transfer, our nation’s inventors and researchers may not see the fruit of their labors come to fruition,” said AUTM Board Chair Almesha Campbell, also a resident of Mississippi, who presented the Innovation MVP Award to Wicker. “The important role he has played as a senior member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation can’t be overstated.” 

Like Cantwell, Wicker lauded AUTM in his remarks, commenting afterward that he was “honored to receive AUTM’s Innovation MVP Award.” He said he is committed to working to “bring back the United States’ edge in research and development so we can compete on a global scale.”
This bipartisan support from two Senate leaders shows that AUTM is continuing to solidify its position as THE voice for technology transfer among policymakers. By actively engaging with Congress and key government agencies as part of the higher ed association community in DC, AUTM is ensuring that your voice is heard in the halls of Washington. Working together with the Association of American Universities, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, the Council on Governmental Affairs and the Association of American Medical Colleges, AUTM helps the overall effort to educate lawmakers and regulators about key issues and provides thoughtful input on legislation and potential regulations.
In recent years, AUTM has adeptly worked with a range of allied interests in Washington to advance a positive agenda for tech transfer, while also opposing legislation and regulations that would inhibit the increase commercialization of research that both parties and the American people expect and deserve. The awards to Senators Cantwell and Wicker reflect what can be accomplished when that hard work pays off.