Peters, Gardner Continue Efforts to Strengthen American R&D Policy, Competitiveness

Bipartisan Working Group Requests Further Input from Research Community

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) and members of the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee and leaders of the innovation and competiveness working group established by Committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.), today offered an update on input they received as part of bipartisan efforts to gather input from the U.S. science and research community and other interested parties on federal research and development (R&D) policy priorities.

“Experts from the scientific community, industry, academia, nonprofits and economic development organizations agree that modest, sustained and predictable increases in federal research and development investments are critical to ensuring the economic competitiveness of the United States moving forward,” said Sen. Peters. “Investment in science and research drives the innovation that creates good-paying jobs, boosts the middle class, enhances our safety and security, and improves the world we live in. We need to foster an environment that encourages entrepreneurial activity, improves access to STEM education and better translates federally funded research into marketable innovations. It has been a pleasure to work with Senator Gardner to gather input as we work to set these policy priorities so that our investments in federal research and development continue to drive America’s growth.”

“Now that our series of roundtables has concluded, I look forward to drafting reauthorization legislation that keeps America the worldwide leader in science, technology, and innovation,” said Sen. Gardner. “The scientists, business owners, inventors, educators and others who participated in these discussions each offered valuable insight into what we need to do to maintain and enhance American competitiveness, and I look forward to incorporating their ideas into this process."

Common themes arising from the working group roundtables include:

  • The community voiced support for continued investment by the federal government in basic research as well as encouragement of wider participation in STEM subjects.
  • Stronger partnerships among government, the private sector, and academia can better leverage discoveries emerging from our research universities to drive innovation.
  • Minimizing barriers and improving incentives at universities and in the private sector can better maximize the scientific and economic return on federal research investment.   

Senators Peters and Gardner have been leading a community outreach effort on topics including, “Maximizing the Impact of Basic Research,” “Research Commercialization and Technology Transfer,” and “Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Education and Workforce Issues.”

While the working group has already received over 200 helpful submissions on maximizing the impact of basic research to SciencePolicy@commerce.senate.gov, the working group invites further input on additional topics:

STEM Education and Workforce Issues

  1. How does the availability of STEM graduates affect corporate decision-making about where to conduct research and manufacture goods?

  2. To make best use of limited resources, how can the federal government, in coordination with the private sector and academia, best prioritize STEM education investments and help respond to shifting academic and private sector workforce needs?

  3. What factors should federal agencies consider to measure the impact and success of the federal STEM education portfolio, and to decide whether to expand, modify, or replace individual programs given limited resources?

  4. How can federal agencies best identify and encourage implementation of promising, research-driven STEM education teaching models and best practices?

  5. What actions can the federal government, private sector, and academia pursue to broaden STEM participation and provide education and research opportunities to students from all backgrounds?

Research Commercialization and Technology Transfer

  1. What roles are federal, state, and private sector actors best suited to play in bridging the “valley of death” and reducing barriers to domestic, full-scale production of innovative products?

  2. How can federal agencies under the Senate Commerce Committee’s jurisdiction incentivize institutions of higher education to improve research commercialization and accelerate innovation?

  3. How can federal agencies under the Senate Commerce Committee’s jurisdiction better promote the sharing and commercialization of federally-funded research and data?

  4. What barriers or disincentives exist to effective R&D collaboration among federal, State, and private sector actors, and what are successful public-private partnership models that should be piloted or replicated?

  5. How should federal agencies coordinate, evaluate, and update manufacturing-related programs, such as those related to advanced manufacturing or aimed at small-and medium-sized manufacturers?

Submissions for the working group’s consideration are requested no later than Friday, October 30, 2015, and should be sent to SciencePolicy@commerce.senate.gov.