Cantwell: Gonzaga, WSU, and Spokane-Area Tech Firms Are Strong Competitors for Funds as Senate Passes America’s Biggest-Ever Investment in Tech Innovation
The region’s biosciences and tech-integrated building innovators will be able to compete for billions in new research funding
WASHINGTON, D.C. — This week, the U.S. Senate and House passed the CHIPS and Science Act, authorizing $250 billion to advance key technologies of the future.
U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) was a main architect of the bill, which is expected to be signed into law by President Biden next week. Sen. Cantwell helped assemble a bipartisan coalition of Senators to support these investments, including:
- Doubling the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) annual budget to nearly $19 billion, with a mandate to invest in key technologies and in workforce development.
- Directing NSF to conduct research to improve agricultural sensors
- $52 billion to spur domestic semiconductor manufacturing, securing access to chips for America’s industry and Armed Forces.
- $13 billion to train a STEM-educated workforce, critical to America’s global economic competitiveness.
“Bipartisan agreement on the CHIPS and Science Act sends a strong message to our nation's inventors, innovators, and makers: We believe in you," said Sen. Cantwell. "These vital investments focus American investment on the technologies of tomorrow – including bioscience, smart cities, and agriculture technologies being developed by researchers at Gonzaga and Washington State University. The bill gives Spokane the opportunity to strengthen its innovation ecosystem by turning more Spokane-area academic discoveries into Spokane-area business ventures, and helping train the workforce needed to staff them."
Among the provisions of the CHIPS and Science Act that may benefit Spokane-area institutions are these:
- Capacity-Building Program for Developing Universities. The Act contains $1.2 billion in funds for minority serving institutions (MSIs), including Tribal colleges and universities, to expand their research capacity, including providing funds for student and faculty research and development. MSIs receiving these funds may use them in partnerships with other universities, such as WSU.
- Fostering Stem Research Diversity and Capacity Program. The Act authorizes $750 million for universities that are not within the top 100 in terms of Federal R&D for development of research programs, faculty recruitment and professional development, acquisition of scientific instruments, and student research stipends.
- Emerging Research Institution Pilot Program. The Act authorizes a five-year pilot program to enhance partnerships between emerging research institutions and institutions that conduct a lot of Federal research.
- Regional Innovation Engines. The Act contains $6.5 billion for University Technology Centers (Regional Innovation Engines), which will conduct research in key technology focus areas. WSU should both be competitive for similar centers, in partnership with minority serving institutions or emerging research institutions
- Manufacturing USA Centers. The Act contains funding for 10 new collaborative academia/industry manufacturing centers. The bill encourages new institutes that add to the geographic diversity of the program (there are none in the Pacific Northwest).
- Regional Technology Hubs. The Act authorizes $10 billion for the Department of Commerce to create 20 geographically-distributed “regional technology hubs” that focus on bringing together government, industry, and academia to work on technology development, job creation, and expanding U.S. innovation capacity. The Spokane region is already working on multiple potential hubs that could compete for funds, including a biosciences tech hub (S3NW).
In 2021, Cantwell advanced the U.S. Innovation and Competition bill in the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, which culminated in a 24-4 bipartisan vote, and then managed the bill on the floor of the United States Senate, where it passed with a 68-32 vote.
On May 13, 2022, Cantwell chaired the kickoff meeting of the Conference Committee to negotiate differences between Senate’s United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) and the House’s America COMPETES Act.
For months, Cantwell has called on Congress to act on the bill. She spoke on the Senate floor on March 28, 2022; March 24, 2022; March 21, 2022; February 10, 2022, and February 4, 2022 encouraging her colleagues to move the bill forward. The Senator previously chaired a Commerce Committee hearing with tech and trucking industry CEOs on the importance of U.S. investment in America’s domestic semiconductor manufacturing and research and organized multiple classified briefings on the impact of the chip shortage on national and economic security.
Next Article Previous Article