The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has published a new request for "white papers" that outline or help define potential new funding competitions under the agency's Technology Innovation Program (TIP). A notice* in the Sept. 4, 2009 issue of the Federal Register solicits detailed analyses of critical national and societal needs that could be addressed by new technology developed with TIP support.
TIP promotes innovation in the United States through cost-shared funding for high-risk, high-reward research projects by single small-sized or medium-sized businesses or by joint ventures that also may include institutions of higher education, nonprofit research organizations and national laboratories. Competitions for TIP funding target large national and societal needs that arguably could be addressed or reduced through a program of high-risk, transformational research. Suggestions in the form of white papers from interested parties, including industry; academia; federal, state, and local governments; and professional organizations and societies are among the several sources consulted by TIP in deciding the scope of future competitions.
While TIP is interested in white papers addressing any area of critical national need, the program is particularly soliciting information related to several potential topic areas currently under consideration. These include:
- Civil Infrastructure: New construction approaches and materials to improve the nation's infrastructure and for mitigating the expense of repairing or replacing existing infrastructure, which includes systems for transportation (airport facilities, roads, bridges, rail, waterway locks) and systems for water distribution and flood control (water distribution systems, storm and waste water collection, dams, and levees).
- Complex networks and complex systems: Improved methods and models for predicting and controlling the behavior of complex systems and networks—a broad category ranging from networks used for energy delivery, telecommunication, transportation, and finance to the environment, neural systems and the body's molecular-level response to disease.
- Energy: A variety of research areas that would support the nation's existing investment in energy research, including technologies for improved manufacturing of critical components for alternative energy production; replacement of fossil-fuel derived fuels with non-food, renewably produced fuels; or improved technologies for stable connections of many power sources to the electrical grid.
- Ensuring Future Water Supply: New, energy-efficient technologies to help ensure adequate supplies of fresh, safe water, including new methods of monitoring water for contamination and to recycle waste water.
- Healthcare: Particularly focused on developing a better understanding of drug mechanisms, the genetic sources of variable response to drugs, targeted drug and vaccine delivery systems, and improved, low cost advanced diagnostic and data integration tools.
- Manufacturing: Innovative technologies that would shorten the manufacturing innovation cycle, increase flexibility and accelerate the use of newly developed advanced materials, such as nanostructured materials and advanced composites and alloys.
- Nanomaterials/nanotechnology: Research to overcome the technical barriers to scaling up laboratory advances in nanotechnology to commercial use.
- Sustainability: Technologies that would address a broad range of sustainable manufacturing issues, including new use of renewable resources, improved methods to recover and recycle resources, and technologies that replace hazardous materials with more benign, environmentally safe materials.
The white papers are expected to describe an area of critical national need and the associated societal challenges, explain why government support is needed, and provide a high-level discussion of potential scientific advancements or technologies needed to address the challenges. They are not meant to include proposals for specific research projects and, because they will become public documents, should contain no secret or proprietary information. Detailed instructions on how to prepare and submit white papers may be found in "A Guide for Preparing and Submitting White Papers on Areas of Critical National Need," available on the TIP Web site at **
www.nist.gov/tip/guide_for_white_papers.pdf. White papers will be accepted at any time from Nov. 9, 2009, through Sept. 30, 2010. To speed processing, TIP requests that submitters try to meet one of four interim submission dates, Nov. 9, Feb. 15, May 10 and July 12. White papers should be submitted by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The full text of the Federal Register notice is available at **
* Federal Register, Vol. 74, No. 171, Friday, Sept. 4, 2009, p. 45823.
**The Technology Innovation Program was cancelled in the fiscal year 2012 budget. All available TIP white papers are now located at www.nist.gov/tip/wp/index.cfm.