Cantwell: Historic Increase in Federal Innovation Spending to Boost UW Research and Seattle’s Next-Generation Tech Industries
CHIPS and Science Act doubles NSF funding that fuels UW research; focuses on key technologies like artificial intelligence where Seattle is an industry leader
WASHINGTON, D.C.— This week, the U.S. Senate and House passed the CHIPS and Science Act, with $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 currently awaiting President Biden’s signature. Sen. Cantwell helped assemble a bipartisan coalition of Senators to support these investments, including:
- Doubling the National Science Foundation’s annual budget to nearly $19 billion, with a mandate to invest in key technologies and in workforce development.
- Authorizing $52 billion over five years to spur domestic semiconductor manufacturing, securing access to chips for America’s industry and Armed Forces.
- Authorizing $13 billion over five years to train a STEM-educated workforce, critical to America’s global economic competitiveness.
“Seattle’s development as a tech epicenter served as model for this legislation,” said Sen. Cantwell. “As other regions learn from us, America will become an innovation machine firing on all cylinders – and key local institutions like the University of Washington will be better funded too. This investment helps America stay competitive, create more diverse tech ecosystems, grow jobs for tomorrow, and solve some of our most pressing problems, from climate change to cybersecurity.”
“We applaud and thank Chair Cantwell for her vital leadership in pushing this important and historic bipartisan competitiveness legislation through the Senate. The CHIPS and Science Act will help the United States maintain its competitive edge and global leadership by providing renewed investments in technology research and development,” said Fred Humphries, Corporate Vice President of U.S. Government Affairs at Microsoft.
The Chips and Science bill creates a new Tech Directorate at the National Science Foundation (NSF), with a $20 billion budget over five years to accelerate tech transfer — turning cutting edge research into transformative products and services and turning researchers into entrepreneurs that will transform industries and our economy – . The bill allocates $3.1 billion at the NSF to help universities increase their patentable technologies and offset the cost of patenting and licensing.
Activities at the University of Washington served as a model for the legislation, making the university well poised to compete for additional technology transfer funds. For instance, the University of Washington’s tech transfer lab, CoMotion, has already helped to facilitate 1,950 patented licenses and 73 UW spinoffs which have gone on to raise over $4.3 billion in funding.
Today, there are 103 active UW spinoffs in the state of Washington with 4,081 employees. Other UW patents have supported the production of life-saving biologics, including insulins and hepatitis B vaccines.
These successful ventures are strong examples of tech transfer for the rest of the country.
The impact of the bill will be felt across all of Seattle. Several of the region’s companies are engaged in developing technology in the ten key technology areas targeted by the bill (the ten areas are listed below).
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning
One specific key technology where the Seattle-area tech ecosystem already shows considerable strength is artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Seattle is the third largest employer of the AI workforce, with 9% of our nation’s AI professionals in Seattle. The University of Washington, according to U.S. News and World Report, is ranked No. 5 for an AI education.
UW is already receiving substantial funding from the NSF in this area, including two new institutes announced in 2021: An artificial intelligence research institute, the AI Institute for Dynamic Systems (expected to receive approximately $20 million in funding over five years), and the Accelerated AI Algorithms for Data-Driven Discovery Institute — or A3D3 Institute – set to receive $15 million over five years.
Leading tech companies based in Washington are implementing machine learning and artificial intelligence today – to interactively and in real-time train such skills as surgery and military equipment repairs. With this ecosystem, work opportunities and economic growth will continue for the state well into the future.
Chips & Science Act Ten Key Technology Areas
- Artificial intelligence, machine learning, autonomy, and related advances.
- High performance computing, semiconductors, and advanced computer hardware and software.
- Quantum information science and technology.
- Robotics, automation, and advanced manufacturing.
- Natural and anthropogenic disaster prevention or mitigation.
- Advanced communications technology and immersive technology.
- Biotechnology, medical technology, genomics, and synthetic biology.
- Data storage, data management, distributed ledger technologies, and cybersecurity, including biometrics.
- Advanced energy and industrial efficiency technologies, such as batteries and advanced nuclear technologies, including but not limited to for the purposes of electric generation.
- Advanced materials science, including composites 2D materials, other next-generation materials, and related manufacturing technologies.
Sen. Cantwell is an architect of this legislation and a longtime champion of boosting America’s competitiveness in research, development and manufacturing.
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.
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