Transgenic tobacco that can be used to produce human insulin, information technology tools that could bring artificial "common sense" to searches on the Internet and a suite of innovative manufacturing and materials technologies are among the technology grails sought in 64 new industrial research projects announced today by the Commerce Department's Advanced Technology Program.
"In both the breadth of technologies represented--agriculture, oil refining, medicine, auto manufacturing, software development and electronics among others--and the strong participation of small and mid-sized companies, these projects demonstrate the continued vitality and economic importance of the ATP," said Commerce Secretary William M. Daley in announcing the awards.
The Advanced Technology Program provides cost-shared funding to industry for high-risk R&D projects with the potential to spark important, broad-based economic benefits for the United States. The ATP accelerates, or in many cases enables, potentially important R&D projects that industry otherwise would not undertake, or would not devote significant resources to in a market-critical timeframe, because of the technical risks involved. The awards are made on the basis of a rigorous competitive review considering scientific and technical merit of each proposal and its potential benefits to the U.S. economy. The program does not fund product development. Applicants must include a detailed business plan for bringing the new technology to market once technical milestones have been achieved under ATP support. The program is managed by the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology.
The awards announced today were the result of seven ATP competitions conducted in 1997, including a general competition open to proposals from any area of technology and six competitions in ATP focused program areas. The latter included competitions in motor-vehicle manufacturing technology, information infrastructure for healthcare, digital data storage, technologies for the integration of manufacturing applications, component-based software and the newly established program in tissue engineering. ATP focused programs concentrate resources on key technical barriers and business challenges in specific technologies judged by industry to offer the potential for major economic benefits to the nation.
The majority of the awards, 48, went to small businesses either for single-company projects or as the lead company in an industry joint venture. More than 100 companies are involved in the 64 projects as formal participants, with many more participating as subcontractors.
If carried through to completion, the 64 projects announced today will cost approximately $142 million in funding from private industry, matched by approximately $162 million in ATP funding. The awards announced today are contingent on the signing of formal agreements between NIST and the project proposers.
Detailed lists of the 1997 ATP projects and their participants are available from the NIST World Wide Web site or by contacting NIST Public and Business Affairs: (301) 975-2758.
As a non-regulatory agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce's Technology Administration, NIST promotes economic growth by working with industry to develop and apply technology, measurements and standards.
NOTE TO EDITORS: As a result of a review of ATP policies initiated by Commerce Secretary Daley last spring, several changes have been proposed to the ATP rules and procedures, and have been published for public comment in the Federal Register. Among other things, these changes will place greater weight on support to industry joint ventures and modify the conditions under which large companies may participate in the ATP. While they will affect future ATP competitions, they were not in effect at the time of the 1997 competitions.