The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is interested in detailed pitches for critical national and societal needs that could be the basis for new competitions for research funding under its Technology Innovation Program (TIP). TIP promotes innovation in the United States through cost-shared funding for high-risk, high-reward research projects by single small-sized or medium-sized businesses or by joint ventures that also may include institutions of higher education, nonprofit research organizations and national laboratories.
Competitions for TIP funding target large national and societal needs that arguably could be addressed or reduced through a program of high-risk, transformational research. The first TIP competition in 2008 sought new technologies for inspecting, monitoring and evaluating critical components of the nation’s roadways, bridges, and drinking and wastewater systems. In a Federal Register notice posted on Dec. 16,* NIST asked interested parties to submit “white papers” describing an area of critical national need and the associated societal challenge and explain how those needs might be addressed through potential technological developments that fit the TIP profile of high-risk, high-reward R&D.
The white papers, along with the input from NIST, the TIP Advisory Board, other government agencies, the technical communities and other stakeholders, will be incorporated into the TIP competition planning process. NIST announced that, while it is accepting papers in any topic area of concern to the submitter, it is particularly interested in white papers that would help further refine several topic areas now under consideration, including:
- Civil Infrastructure—for example construction technologies or advanced materials for transportation or for water distribution and flood control;
- Complex networks and complex systems—for example new theory or mathematical tools to enable better understanding and control of the complex networks that have evolved for energy delivery, telecommunications, transportation and finance;
- Energy—technologies that address emerging alternative energy sources;
- Water—technologies that address growing needs for fresh water supplies and ensure the safety of water and food supplies from contamination;
- Manufacturing—for example, advanced manufacturing technologies that have shorter innovation cycles, more flexibility, and are rapidly reconfigurable;
- Nanomaterials and nanotechnology—for example technologies that enable the scale-up of nanomaterials and nanodevices from lab prototypes to commercial manufacturing;
- Personalized Medicine—for example, advances in proteomics and genomics that could enable doctors to select optimal drug treatments and dosages based on the patient’s unique genetics, physiology, and metabolic processes; and
- Sustainable Chemistry—for example, novel, advanced process chemistries and technologies that are inherently safer and cleaner, while creating products and processes with attributes superior to conventional methods.