Overview Edit

The Technology Innovation Program (TIP) was created by the America COMPETES Act of 2007 to replace the Advanced Technology Program (ATP). While similar to the ATP in the intent to promote high-risk R&D that would be of broad-based economic benefit to the United States, there were several differences in the operation of the TIP.

This effort is designed “to support, promote, and accelerate innovation in the United States through high-risk, high-reward research in areas of critical national need.” The intent of the program is to provide grants to small and medium-sized firms for individual projects or joint ventures with other research organizations to undertake work that:

(A) has the potential for yielding transformational results with far-ranging or wide-ranging implications;
(B) addresses critical national needs within the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s areas of technical competence; and
(C) is too novel or spans too diverse a range of disciplines to fare well in the traditional peer-review process.

Funding under TIP is limited to small and medium-sized businesses[1] whereas grants under ATP were available to companies regardless of size.

In addition, in the Advanced Technology Program, joint ventures were required to include two separately-owned for-profit firms and could involve universities, government laboratories, and other research establishments as participants in the project, but not as recipients of the grant. In the TIP initiative, a joint venture may involve two separately-owned for-profit companies but may also be comprised of one small or medium-sized firm and a university.

A single company could receive up to $2 million for up to three years under ATP; under TIP, the participating company (which must be a small or medium-sized business) may receive up to $3 million for up to three years. In ATP, small and medium-sized companies were not required to cost share (large firms provided 60% of the total cost of the project) while in TIP there is a 50% cost-sharing requirement which, again, only applies to the small and medium-sized businesses that are eligible.

There were no funding limits for the five-year funding available for joint ventures under ATP; the TIP limits joint venture funding to $9 million for up to five years.

The Advisory Board that was created to assist in the Advanced Technology Program included industry representatives as well as federal government personnel and representatives from other research organizations. The Advisory Board for the Technology Innovation Program is comprised of only private sector members.

In January 2009, nine TIP awards were announced for “new research projects to develop advanced sensing technologies that would enable timely and detailed monitoring and inspection of the structural health of bridges, roadways and water systems that comprise a significant component of the nation’s public infrastructure.” According to the agency, $42.5 million in federal money is expected to be matched by $45.7 in private sector support.

The elimination of ATP and the creation of TIP have renewed the debate over the role of the federal government in promoting commercial technology development. In arguing for less direct federal involvement, advocates believe that the market is superior to government in deciding technologies worthy of investment. Mechanisms that enhance the market’s opportunities and abilities to make such choices are preferred. It is suggested that agency discretion in selecting one technology over another can lead to political intrusion and industry dependency. On the other hand, supporters of direct methods argue that it is important to focus on those technologies that have the greatest promise as determined by industry and supported by matching funds from the private sector. They assert that the government can serve as a catalyst for cooperation. As the 111th Congress continues to make budget decisions, the discussion may serve to redefine thinking about governmental efforts in facilitating technological advancement in the private sector.

References Edit

  1. NIST published the final rule prescribing the policies and procedures for the TIP activity on June 25, 2008 (15 C.F.R. Part 296).

See also Edit

Wendy H. Schacht, The Technology Innovation Program (CRS Report RS22815)(full-text).

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