Science, Research, Education, Energy: America COMPETES Act

Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN) of the House Science Committee commented on Wednesday’s committee hearing, “America COMPETES: Big Picture Perspectives on the Need for Innovation, Investments in R&D and a Commitment to STEM Education.” From his news release:

[We] are kicking off one of the most important efforts of the year – to reauthorize our Committee’s landmark legislation, the America COMPETES Act,” stated Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN). “As we learned from the National Academies’ report Rising Above the Gathering Storm, in order to create an innovative economy we need a well-educated workforce and predictable funding streams for these programs. Today, our witnesses have expressed how critical this commitment to innovation is to our prosperity and our economic growth. COMPETES has affected, and will continue to affect, U.S. innovation and its programs will help sustain a skilled workforce in the future.”

National Association of Manufacturers President John Engler testified on basic research, technical education, the Manufacturing Extension Program (MEP) and a research-supporting arm of the Department of Energy known as ARPA-E, Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy. Rep. Gordon is a big supporter:

One key provision of COMPETES with a strong public-private partnership component was ARPA-E.  The agency recently made its first round of awards.  In addition to receiving far more concept papers for the first Funding Opportunity Announcement than expected—3,700—the awards also attracted far more funds from the private sector than was required or expected. The Chairman and the Committee have continued to look for ways to attract additional private sector support for high-risk, high-reward energy technology development.

“There are far more good ideas than ARPA-E’s funding can accommodate,” said Gordon.  “Many of the finalists have very promising projects that are as deserving of grant funding as the award winners.”

Focusing more attention on the projects and other innovations is the ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit scheduled March 1-3 at National Harbor Place.

The Committee continues its work today with a hearing by the Subcommittee on Technology & Innovation, “Commerce Department Programs to Support Job Creation and Innovation at Small- and Medium-Sized Manufacturers,” primarily the MEP.

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