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ATP Introduces Process Improvements to Streamline  2001 Competition for Innovative Industrial R&D

For Immediate Release: January 2, 2001

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Contact: Michael Baum
301-975-2763

A new, streamlined proposal submission and review procedure marks the 2001 Advanced Technology Program (ATP) competition announced today by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, an agency of the Commerce Department's Technology Administration. The program provides co-funding for new and innovative industrial research projects that are technically challenging but hold the promise of important economic or social benefits for the nation.

Two significant changes to this year's competition are the elimination of any deadline—the ATP will accept proposals at any time throughout the year and evaluate them as they come in—and a new "gated" proposal process that allows companies to submit proposals in stages. Both changes should significantly accelerate the pace of the process and simplify the application procedure for many companies, according to ATP officials. The ATP will accept proposals for the 2001 competition from Jan. 10, 2001, until 3 p.m. Eastern time on Sept. 30, 2001 (the end of the 2001 fiscal year). The program expects to have approximately $60.7 million available in fiscal year 2001 for first-year funding of new projects that can run as long as five years.

"Our constant goal is to make the ATP as efficient and easy to work with as possible while maintaining the high standards in our selection process that industry has come to expect," said ATP Director Alan Balutis. "While our basic selection criteria remain the same, we expect the changes we are introducing this year to significantly enhance the process."

Since 1990, NIST's Advanced Technology Program has co-funded a broad array of path-breaking new industrial technologies. The program solicits proposals for innovative, high-risk R&D in any industry or field of technology that offers the potential for widespread benefits for the U.S. economy and society as a whole. ATP projects range from aquaculture to X-ray lithography, and the program has contributed significantly to technological advances in fields as diverse as automated DNA analysis, HDTV, automobile assembly, tissue engineering and software systems. Companies of any size may apply to the program and many successful projects have been developed by small start-up companies. Many universities have participated in ATP-supported research, but industry must lead ATP projects.

The program concentrates on those technologies that offer significant, broad-based benefits to the nation's economy, but that are not likely to be developed in a timely fashion without the ATP's support because they are judged too risky and often are path-breaking approaches. Awards are made on the basis of announced competitions that consider the technical and economic merits of the proposed projects.

Previous ATP competitions have required approximately 10 months from competition announcement to the announcement of the awards, in large part because all the proposals were evaluated at once, beginning with the close of the competition in early spring. The new "rolling submission" process will allow ATP staff to begin evaluating proposals soon after they are submitted. One consequence of the new procedure is that a proposal that is rejected early in the year because of some deficiency can be revised by the proposer and resubmitted to the same competition without waiting for the next year's competition.

The new ATP proposal submission process also allows proposers to submit proposals in stages. ATP proposals require both a detailed description of the technical issue and proposed R&D approach, and a detailed business plan describing the planned path to commercialization and the projected broad-based economic benefits of the technology. Under the new procedure, proposers may submit the detailed technical portion of the proposal first and preliminary business/economic portion, speeding the proposal preparation process, and follow up with the detailed business/economic benefits portion and budget if the technical proposal is accepted.

Details of the 2001 Advanced Technology Program were published today in the Federal Register and in Commerce Business Daily. Detailed competition rules and the current ATP Proposal Preparation Kit (dated November 2000) are available from the ATP Web site at www.atp.nist.gov, by sending e-mail to atp@nist.gov, by calling 800-ATP-FUND (800-287-3863), or by faxing a request to (301) 926-9524 or (301) 590-3053.

The ATP is conducting a series of three Proposers' Conferences to familiarize potential proposers with the new competition procedures. The scheduled conferences are:

Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2001
Holiday Inn O'Hare International
Rosemont, Ill.

Thursday, Feb. 1, 2001
Alexis Park
Las Vegas, Nev.

Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2001
National Institute of Standards and Technology
Gaithersburg, Md.

There is no charge to attend these meetings. Details are available online at www.atp.nist.gov/atp/proposers.htm.

As a non-regulatory agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce's Technology Administration, NIST strengthens the U.S. economy and improves the quality of life by working with industry to develop and apply technology, measurements and standards through four partnerships: the Advanced Technology Program, the NIST Laboratories, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership and the Baldrige National Quality Program.

For more information on NIST, see our web site at www.nist.gov. To explore a century of NIST partnerships with U.S. industry, benefits to the public and impacts on economic growth, go to the NIST Centennial (1901-2001) web site at www.100.nist.gov.