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January 27, 2022 | Tom Ballard

U.S. House introduces long-awaited response to Senate’s innovation and competitiveness act

Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this week issued their long-awaited response to the Senate’s “U.S. Innovation and Competitiveness Act” (USICA) which has already passed that chamber. Titled the “America Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing Pre-Eminence in Technology and Economic Strength (America COMPETES) Act of 2022,” the measure aligns in many ways with the Senate bill but adds some additional items.

The House bill is massive by any measure. It is 2,912 pages long, and even the summary runs 109 pages while the fact sheet is 20 pages in length. The State Science and Technology Institute provided a summary of the bill in yesterday’s SSTI Weekly Digest, citing these “new and expanded authorities” that it said “will be of interest to tech-based economic development practitioners”:

  • Regional Technology and Innovation Hubs —Establishes a five-year program at the Department of Commerce to: (!) fund regional innovation strategy development; (2) designate hubs around the country; and, (3) provide a total of $6.8 billion in implementation grant funding.
  • National Science Foundation Directorate for Science and Engineering Solutions —Supports translational R&D that addresses societal challenges (such as environmental sustainability and cybersecurity) through Technology Research Institutes, capacity-building grants, scholarships and more.
  • Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Pilot —Creates a new program allowing NIST (National Institute of Standards) to make additional grants to MEP centers with the goal of supporting employee training or ownership, strengthening supply chains, and assisting manufacturers in the adoption of advanced technologies.
  • Clean energy innovation programs —Expands on authorities for the Department of Energy to operate an incubator network, university prize competition, entrepreneurial fellowships and employee leave programs at national labs, and a small business voucher program.

Prospects are uncertain for passage of the House version that would lead to a Senate-House conference committee.

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