New technologies to provide stand-alone sources of clean, reliable electric power; a possible method to restore nerve function to victims of spinal-cord injuries; advanced materials and manufacturing technologies for future generations of integrated circuits; and a truly three-dimensional computer display technology are among the diverse goals set by 79 new industrial research projects selected for cofunding with industry by the Advanced Technology Program. The ATP is managed by the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology.
"Some of these projects are so visionary as to sound like a look into the future, but all were chosen for their very real potential to advance our nation’s economy and quality of life," said Commerce Secretary William M. Daley in announcing the awards. "I’m proud of the role the ATP plays in making these projects possible, in fostering the wellspring of American resource and ingenuity."
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. ATP support significantly accelerates potentially important R&D projects. These are projects that industry on its own could not fully support because of the technical risks involved, but accelerated R&D is critical to eventual economic success in the highly competitive global market. In many cases, ATP support is essential for the project to take place at all.
The majority of the awards, 54, went to small businesses, including several new companies, either for single-company projects or as the lead company in an industry joint venture. Eleven universities and more than 150 companies are involved in the projects as formal participants, with many more participating as subcontractors or consultants.
Daley noted that the statistical profile of project participants was evidence that changes in the ATP introduced last year were successful. "Our intent was to encourage large companies to participate in the ATP as partners in richly structured joint ventures that include both large and small companies, as well as universities," said Daley.
ATP awards are made on the basis of a rigorous competitive review considering the 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 awards announced today were the result of nine ATP competitions conducted in 1998, including a general competition open to proposals from any area of technology and eight competitions in focused technology areas. The latter included competitions in photonics manufacturing, premium power technologies, digital video for information networks, catalysis and biocatalysis technologies, microelectronics manufacturing technologies, selective membranes for chemical and biochemical separations, tools for DNA analysis, and technologies to support advanced adaptive learning systems.
If carried through to completion, the 79 projects announced today will be funded at approximately $224 million from private industry, matched by approximately $236 million from the ATP. The awards announced today are contingent on the acceptance of the awards by the recipients.
Detailed lists of the 1998 ATP projects and their participants are available from the ATP World Wide Web site at http://www.atp.nist.gov or by contacting NIST Public and Business Affairs at (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 through four partnerships: the Measurement and Standards Laboratories, the Advanced Technology Program, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership and the Baldrige National Quality Program.