ITIF Statement on Congressional Passage of America COMPETES Act
WASHINGTON (December 21, 2010) - ITIF President Robert D. Atkinson today welcomed the House's approval on a bipartian vote of 228-130 (after the Senate's last Friday) of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act (HR 5116), a bill that will enhance the nation's innovation capabilities and competitiveness through strategic investments in research and education.
"It is welcome news that this critical legislation is finally on its way to the President's desk. In one of the final votes of the 111th Congress, lawmakers affirmed that innovation is not a partisan issue. They demonstrated their firm understanding that our economic future is only as bright as the decisions we make about science, technology and education today."
ITIF worked closely with key lawmakers from both the House and Senate over the past year, recommending a number of initiatives and policies that were ultimately included in the final legislation.
The final bill contains language recommended by Sen. Mark Warner, D-VA, and others directing the Administration to develop a national competitiveness and innovation strategy. Senator Warner's amendment would direct the Secretary of Commerce to study all aspects of U.S. competitiveness, from our manufacturing infrastructure to intellectual property enforcement to the role of state and local governments and regional economies. This would enable policymakers in Congress and the Administration to design and to adopt policies to enhance U.S. innovation and jobs in the coming decades.
COMPETES also includes a provision by Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-MN, and George LaMieux, R-FL, to encourage and facilitate technology transfer and commercialization of innovations occurring in university laboratories. In addition, the bill adopts proposals suggested by ITIF that would expand Ph.D. fellowships by allowing NSF to match industry donations for fellowship programs and allow universities to use up to five percent of grant amounts toward patent applications for inventions generated by the research.
COMPETES would also provide federal loan guarantees for innovative technologies in manufacturing, provide NSF grants in support of post-doctoral fellowship programs in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields, and authorize continued increases in investments in key science agencies. In particular, the bill helps to maintain our energy innovation capacity by authorizing continued funding for the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy for an additional three years. The agency fulfills an important role supporting radical energy technology research.
"COMPETES represents an important step forward in enhancing U.S. innovative competitiveness. But our work is not done. Other countries around the world are eager to wrest innovation leadership from the United States. The 112th Congress must be prepared to continue to strengthen America's ability to compete by enacting smart and innovative policies on a range of issues from taxes and education to intellectual property, energy, and science and technology."