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Advanced Technology Program Announces New Focus Areas, Seeks Proposals For 1995 General Competition

The Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) today announced six new focused areas of technology—all based on input from U.S. industry—for which companies and consortia will be able to propose projects to receive nearly $800 million of long-range, cost-shared support under the Advanced Technology Program (ATP). NIST also announced the deadline for submitting proposals under the ATP 1995 general competition.

Since 1990, the ATP has worked with U.S. industry to advance the nation's industrial competitiveness and economic opportunities by helping 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 entail significant risk upstream of product development, 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 with both large and small companies and with teams, the ATP catalyzes industry to pursue promising technologies.

The six new focused technology programs are founded on ideas from "white papers" submitted by industry and workshops held around the country. The projects will be cost-shared and carried out by industry. A five-year government investment of $785 million is expected to leverage an equal investment by industry. It is anticipated that the new ATP focused program areas—all driven by industrial concerns—will yield large benefits to the nation's economy by fostering powerful technologies enabling new or improved world-class products and industrial processes.

The new program areas are:

  • Motor Vehicle Manufacturing Technology—a five-year, $185 million program to foster innovations in manufacturing technologies that can strengthen capabilities and lead to dramatic advances along the entire automotive production chain, including more versatile equipment, better control and integration of processes, and greater operational flexibility at all levels. Automotive suppliers are expected to be key partners and players in this program.
  • Catalysis and Biocatalysis Technologies—a five-year, $160 million program to develop the tools, abilities and theoretical insight to identify, design and implement new catalysts and processes of major economic importance to chemical producers and users. (Catalysts are substances that alter a chemical reaction without being integrated into the resulting product or products.)
  • Materials Processing for Heavy Manufacturing—a five- year, $145 million program to develop and demonstrate innovative materials processing technologies that will help U.S. heavy manufacturing companies make longer lasting, more reliable and more efficient products. Truck engines that need overhauls only after 1.6 million kilometers (1 million miles), drive trains that require only half as much maintenance and repair, and a 2-percent increase in power-generation efficiency are examples of advances that could result from research in this focused area.
  • Digital Data Storage—a five-year, $125 million program will concentrate on six technical objectives: increase tape and disk storage density, develop better performing magnetic recording heads, develop new lubricants and surface finishes, develop more reliable tracking devices, improve signal-processing electronics and significantly advance the state of the art in data storage and retrieval software. By assisting industry to exploit the revolution in digital storage, the program will help American companies to expand digital storage markets and market share dramatically.
  • Digital Video in Information Networks—a five-year, $120 million program to help develop interoperable digital video capabilities for emerging information networks through techniques for encoding, converting, transcribing and otherwise transcribing video data into the various forms required by the network. The program will help U.S. firms to take commercial advantage of the information network to allow any video-based information product to travel via wire, optical fiber, satellite or broadcast seamlessly into regular TVs and other information appliances.
  • Advanced Vapor Compression Refrigeration Systems—a five-year, $50 million program to develop more efficient, quiet and compact air-conditioning and refrigeration systems with the lowest achievable environmental impact. The projects selected will focus on improving the vapor compression cycle, the principle of operation for most current cooling equipment. The overall technical goals are to increase system efficiency, reduce noise levels and reduce refrigeration components' sizes -- each by 25 percent -- and to design and manufacture a system in which no refrigerant leaks.

Specific program areas such as the six announced today are 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 planned funding levels for the six focused program areas in fiscal year 1995 and beyond are contingent on future appropriations for the ATP.

The ATP accepts proposals for focused program projects only in response to specific competition announcements published in the Commerce Business Daily. Today's announcement does not constitute a call for proposals under any of the six program areas.

Also announced today by the ATP is the March 1, 1995, proposal deadline for the 1995 general competition, where project submissions from any area of technology are eligible. An estimated $25 million to $30 million in first-year funding will be available for ATP awards.

Detailed summaries of each of the six focused program areas are available to reporters from NIST's Public Affairs Division by faxing a request to (301) 926-1630. Others should contact the ATP directly as noted above.

As a non-regulatory 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 December 2, 1994, Updated January 8, 2018