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America COMPETES Act: The Innovation Agenda

The 110th Congress is taking American in a New Direction, to help ensure our nation's global economic competitiveness for generations to come--through a new emphasis on math, science, engineering, and technology education, and a renewed commitment to basic research.

On August 2, 2007, the House passed the final House-Senate agreement on the America COMPETES Act, H.R. 2272. On August 9, the President signed this bill into law.

This legislation is the culmination of a year and a half-long, bipartisan effort to pass an Innovation Agenda that boldly responds to the global economic challenges identified in the 2005 National Academies report, Rising above the Gathering Storm.  It ensures American students, teachers, businesses, and workers are prepared to continue leading the world in innovation, research, and technology well into the future.

A New Generation Of Innovators

America's greatest resource for innovation is in classrooms across this country.  This legislation will train more of our students in math, science, engineering, and technology, to turn ideas into innovative technologies to boost our economy and create good American jobs.  Future innovators must reflect the diversity of our country, and our efforts to train them for the global economy must reflect the needs of the marketplace.

To achieve this goal, this legislation:

  • Invests in 25,000 new teachers through professional development, summer training institutes, graduate education assistance, and scholarships through NSF's Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program and Math and Science Partnerships Program.
  • Ensures more highly qualified teachers in the classroom, in the fields of mathematics, science, engineering, technology, and critical foreign languages through grant programs that provide baccalaureate degrees in these areas with concurrent teacher certification. Also authorizes competitive grants to establish programs focused on math for elementary and secondary schools including training for teachers with a focus on serving high-needs schools.
  • Establishes a public-private partnership with the business community and institutions of higher education to develop programs to educate and train mathematicians, scientists and engineers to meet the workforce demands of the business industry. 
  • Expands access to Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) classes for students and increases the number of qualified AP/IB teachers.
  • Enhances the ability of states to build more competitive workforces, through P-16+ Councils and other tools, to coordinate education and workforce goals with industry and community leaders, and to identify the challenges of recruiting and retaining students in innovative fields.
  • Broadens the participation of minorities and women in science and engineering fields at all levels, from Kindergarten students to advanced researchers.

A Sustained Commitment To Research & Development

Independent scientific research provides the foundation for innovation and future technologies. But U.S. federal funding for R&D has declined steadily over the last decade, and sound science has been compromised by political interference.

This legislation:

  • Invests in basic research and development and puts us on a path to double funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the Department of Energy's Office of Science.
  • Provides grants for outstanding researches in the early stages of their careers at both NSF and the Department of Energy.
  • Coordinates and prioritizes research infrastructure needs at universities and national labs, strengthens planning and coordination for interagency research and development in information technology including deployment of high performance computers for use by the research community, and establishes a Presidential innovation award.

A Declaration Of Energy Independence

America must implement a bold energy strategy to create new high-paying jobs, strengthen our national security, reduce costs for American consumers, and reduce global warming.  A skilled ‘green' workforce and new clean energy technologies will be the economic engines of the 21st century.

The 110th Congress is passing separate Energy Independence legislation, as well as in this legislation:

  • Strengthens our national commitment to energy research and innovation, by creating a new Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E), like we already have for the Department of Defense.  The agency will help provide talent and resources for high-risk, high-reward energy research and technology development, and help attract investment for the next generation of revolutionary technologies.

A Focus On Small Business Innovation

Small businesses are often the catalysts for technological innovation. The evolution from idea to marketable product, guided by a successful business plan, has led to entrepreneurial successes that have made small businesses star players in our technological revolution.  Yet small businesses face significant hurdles, both regulatory and market-based, that limit their efforts to transform ideas into jobs. Removing these hurdles has been a key goal of the Innovation Agenda.

This legislation:

  • Spurs new manufacturing processes and techniques by putting funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) on a path to doubling over 10 years.  The partnership also leverages federal, state, and private dollars.
  • Supports high-risk, high-reward, pre-competitive technology development, with high potential for public benefit, with a new initiative, the Technology Innovation Program (TIP), to focus on small and medium-sized companies.