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Advanced Technology Program Announces Five Major Technology Areas For Long-Range, Focused Support

The Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology today announced five areas of technology for industry development through the department's Advanced Technology Program. These are the first subjects for focused technology programs under the ATP.

The ATP has received over 550 "white papers" from industry detailing suggested program areas since last October. Based on ideas from more than 150 of the papers, the five new R&D; programs will be cost shared and carried out by industry. A five-year government investment of $745 million is expected to leverage an equal investment by industry.

It is anticipated the five new ATP focused program areas—all driven by industrial concerns—will yield real benefits to the nation's economy by fostering powerful technologies leading to new or improved world-class products and industrial processes. They range from advanced materials technology to innovative information technologies, and include:

  • Tools for DNA Diagnostics: a five-year, $145 million program to develop compact, low-cost, automated DNA analysis technologies and equipment to enable fast, inexpensive detection and diagnosis of human, animal and plant diseases.
  • Information Infrastructure for Healthcare: a five-year, $185 million program to develop critical information infrastructure technologies to enable enhanced, more fully integrated medical information systems across the healthcare industry, greatly reducing costs and errors in handling medical information.
  • Manufacturing Composite Structures: a five-year, $160 million program to reduce the high initial costs of using advanced composite materials, traditionally found only in military and sports applications, to enable the use of these strong, lightweight, durable materials in large-scale commercial applications such as bridges and automobiles.
  • Component-Based Software: a five-year, $150 million program to develop the technologies necessary to enable systematically reusable software components—small, carefully engineered software elements suitable for automated assembly in a broad array of applications.
  • Computer-Integrated Manufacturing for Electronics: a five-year, $105 million program to develop a flexible, software-based framework needed to promote greater manufacturability, productivity and product variety in the electronics industry—allowing U.S. firms to more easily scale up and reconfigure their manufacturing operations.

Specific program areas such as the five announced today are based on ideas suggested by industry and evaluated against four criteria: the potential for U.S. economic benefit, the strength of the technical ideas, evidence of strong industry commitment, and the opportunity for ATP funds to make a significant difference.

The ATP accepts proposals for research projects only in response to specific competition announcements published in Commerce Business Daily. Today's announcement does not constitute a call for proposals under any of the five program areas. Competition announcements will be made in each of the announced program areas within the next few weeks.

The proposed funding levels for the five programs in FY 1995 and beyond are contingent on future appropriations for the ATP.

Since 1990, the ATP has worked with U.S. industry to advance the nation's economic competitiveness by helping to fund the development of high-risk but powerful new technologies that underlie a broad spectrum of potential new applications, commercial products and services. The ATP accelerates technologies that, because they are risky, are unlikely to be developed in time to compete in rapidly changing world markets without such a partnership of industry and government. By sharing the cost of such projects, the ATP catalyzes industry to pursue promising technologies.

The ATP selects specific research projects for support based on competitions in which project proposals are evaluated for the strengths of their technology and business plans.

The five programs announced today reflect the continued growth of the ATP, which will seek to maximize its impact on the economy by focusing a significant share of its resources on specific programs with well-defined technological and business goals. These typically involve the parallel development of interlocking R&D; projects that will complement and reinforce each other.

Programs run five or more years—with an established termination date—and require about $20 million to $50 million per year from the ATP, although both the duration and level of funding depend on the scope of the program as project proposals are received from industry.

The ATP continues to evaluate program recommendations already received and welcomes additional program suggestions at any time. The ATP plans to announce as many as six additional focused programs around November 1994 for the next year, depending on funding and industry suggestions for programs.

The ATP continues to conduct general competitions open to all areas of technology. The fifth general competition, announced March 21, is now under way.

Further details on the five program areas announced today are attached.

An agency of the Commerce Department's Technology Administration, NIST promotes U.S. economic growth by working with industry to develop and apply technology, measurements and standards.

Released April 25, 1994, Updated November 27, 2017