Funding the Innovation Engine

Monday, Mar 19, 2012, 12:00am

by Semiconductor Industry Association

Last week representatives from the Office of Science & Technology Policy (OSTP), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and NASA, testified before the Senate Commerce Committee at a hearing entitled, “Keeping America Competitive Through Investments in R&D”.  You can watch the full hearing here,

The Subcommittee examined the current state of federal research and development (R&D) spending in context of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 and the President’s fiscal year 2013 budget which requests non-defense R&D spending increases of five percent from 2012 levels, amounting to $140.8 billion even as overall budgets decline.

The Subcommittee focused on progress made toward achieving goals of America COMPETES, including preparing a skilled workforce to meet the needs of the innovation economy and the use of public-private partnerships to facilitate development of technologies for commercialization among others.

The SIA through the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) funds a highly successful public-private partnership with NSF and NIST called the Nanoelectronics Research Initiative (NRI).  The NRI supports universityresearch focused on uncovering the next breakthrough in semiconductor design and manufacturing that will allow faster, smaller, more energy efficient devices beyond the limits of today’s semiconductor technology.  The NRI leverages resources and expertise from NSF, NIST, and over 40 universities in 19 states to advance their research, which requires measuring structures with atomic accuracy, characterizing new materials and molecules, and even measuring the signals from individual electrons.  The NRI has been extremely successful from its inception in 2005, producing 1500 technical publications and 29 patent disclosures.

Further, the hearing focused on investment in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. Investments in this area will enable America’s students to meet the ever-increasing demand for a highly-skilled and highly-educated workforce.  This is an important issue for the semiconductor industry, and SIA member companies continue to devote  time and resources in STEM education. For instance, the combined spending by member companies on K-12 programs is over $220 million over three years — reaching 10 million students. Read more about SIA’s position on the workforce needed to compete in today’s globalized economy here.

Increased funding for scientific research and STEM education is the cornerstone of SIA’s competitiveness agenda. At nearly 20% of revenues, this industry has one of the highest investments in R&D because we’ve recognized that R&D is the engine for innovation and it is the only way that America can win the future and remain globally competitive. It’s encouraging to see that members in Congress echo these sentiments, and understand that the new frontier of global competitiveness will be won with innovation from science and technology. To read more about SIA’s position on Research and Technology, visit the SIA’s policy on R & D.