In his new role as the Department of Defense’s top R&D official, Mike Griffin is arguing that DOD must shed its risk-adverse culture and further embrace prototyping to accelerate innovation. He has also elaborated on his top technology priorities in recent congressional testimony, stressing that DOD must counter other countries’ growing hypersonic weapons capabilities and should focus on transitioning directed energy weapons from R&D to deployment.
A chorus of concern has emerged in Congress about China’s allegedly pervasive exploitation of the U.S.’s intellectual property and open research environment, with some lawmakers seeking to overhaul foreign investment and export control systems. Meanwhile, the Trump administration is preparing a package of unilateral retaliation measures that reportedly could include visa restrictions on Chinese students and academics.
At a Senate hearing held to review implementation of the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act, the directors of the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Standards and Technology as well as several senators raised concerns about how rising international competition in R&D threatens U.S. economic competitiveness and leadership in innovation.
At a Senate Energy and Natural Resources subcommittee hearing this week on the Department of Energy’s national labs, committee members praised the labs’ technology development and commercialization activities. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) also announced his introduction of a bipartisan bill authorizing a DOE initiative for funding technology maturation projects.
A new report from a high-level advisory group to the European Commission calls for doubling funding of the successor to Horizon 2020, the seven-year, €77 billion ($88 billion) European Union research program that will end in 2020.
Last week, experts in advanced materials testified before a House subcommittee on the potential of their work and the challenges they face. Warning of declining U.S. leadership in their field, they urged increased federal support for R&D as well as policy changes to speed technology commercialization.
Among his final actions in office over the past month, President Obama signed three major research-related bills into law: the 21st Century Cures Act, the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act, and the National Defense Authorization Act.
In a new report, Neal Lane, former director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, is calling on the next president to put a “laser focus” on science and technology early on in the next administration. The report makes five recommendations for the next president and five more for the president’s next science advisor on how S&T policy should be dealt with in the White House.
President Obama will host a White House Frontiers Conference in Pittsburgh in October and guest-edit the November edition of WIRED magazine, both focusing on the president’s five “frontiers of innovation.”
A group of industry, higher education, and scientific organizations has reissued a statement calling for Congress to increase federal support of basic research, streamline research regulations, and reaffirm merit-based review, among other actions.