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The American Competitiveness Of a More Productive Emerging Tech Economy Act: NIST studies on emerging technologies


In coordination with the Department of Commerce and the Federal Trade Commission, The National Institute of Standards and Technology has completed the Congressionally directed (Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021) studies on the following technology areas that are expected to be critical to the global competitiveness, economic growth, and national security of the United States in the coming decade: 

  • Artificial Intelligence including algorithms, software, hardware, and design patterns—typically requiring substantial data to develop—used to carry out tasks with varying levels of autonomy that would otherwise require intelligent human involvement. The technology is advancing rapidly and has become increasingly pervasive in applications as diverse as autonomous vehicles, pharmaceutical development, personalized healthcare, and facial recognition. 

  • Internet of Things and Internet of Things in Manufacturing combines both IoT’s digitally connected network of physical objects and smart manufacturing technologies.  As a well-established technology, the area has a vast range of marketplace applications.

  • Quantum Computing's potential to accelerate information processing through leveraging the quantum mechanical properties of physical systems could have a significant impact on the market. Despite rapid technical advancements, sustained investment in research and development over many years likely will be needed to enable the commercialization of QC technology.   

  • Blockchain Technology is an approach to digital recordkeeping with distributed ledgers that use lists linked using cryptographic hashes to ensure data fidelity. This technology area has applications in any setting that requires or benefits from ledger updating, transaction recording, and smart or self-executing contracts.  

  • New and Advanced Materials have two distinguishing characteristics: (1) they exhibit novel or enhanced properties and superior performance relative to other materials and (2) their novel or enhanced properties make them suitable for integration into commercial products. Their diverse natures and applications make NAMs relevant to practically every industry that produces or relies on physical parts, including agriculture, mining, utilities, construction, manufacturing, retail trade, energy, transportation and warehousing, information, professional and technical services, and healthcare.

  • Unmanned Delivery Services are remotely operated, semi- to fully autonomous services (ground or aerial) that deliver goods from a distribution point, such as a transportation hub or warehouse, to a final destination (i.e., endpoint delivery). UDS has numerous potential applications in a variety of economic sectors, including wholesale and retail trade, medical and pharmaceutical supplies, public safety, and disaster and emergency response. 

  • Three-Dimensional Printing (included here as Additive Manufacturing) is a family of processes that uses a variety of materials—typically polymers, metals, and ceramics, but also more exotic substances, such as biomaterials containing live cells—to create an object by incrementally adding material based on a digital model. AM is an exceptionally flexible technology capable of making uniquely complex and personalized objects and responding quickly to changes in market demand.

Report Requirements and Approach:  

Public input was solicited via a Request for Information (RFI). The final report compiles chapters addressing each technology area. All were prepared by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) on behalf of the Secretary of Commerce, with support from its contractor the Institute for Defense Analyses Science and Technology Policy Institute (IDA STPI).  The Quantum Economic Development Consortium (QED-C) contributed significant portions of the Quantum Computing chapter and the Federal Trade Commission contributed to the chapters on Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain Technology, New and Advanced Materials, and Quantum Computing.  All chapters were submitted for interagency review and clearance through the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Agency feedback was reviewed and adjudicated by NIST and IDA STPI for incorporation into the final report. 

For each technology area, the American COMPETE Act required (1) a general overview with a focus on Federal Government activities and industry impact on the U.S. economy, (2) a marketplace and supply chain review, (3) recommendations to develop policy and legislative proposals, and (4) a written report. 

Final Report  


Created September 8, 2021, Updated August 11, 2023