Now that the deficit-financed mini-boom is over, economic growth is settling back into what seems to be its new, long-term normal of slightly over 2 percent per year. This is a big problem, because the health of our political and financial systems is closely linked to growing incomes. A future with 3 percent growth is much better than one with only 2 percent growth.
The greatest driver of economic progress since the dawn of the industrial revolution has been the development and adoption of technology, especially to either automate work or eliminate the need for it. The federal government should significantly increase spending on research and development that specifically targets technologies likely to boost productivity in order to spur growth and reduce the budget deficit.
The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has awarded a total of nearly $4 million in grants to 19 small businesses to support innovative technology development. Awardees in 12 states will receive Phase I or Phase II funding through NIST’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.
The announcement Tuesday of a nearly $1 billion federal commitment toward artificial-intelligence research drew a mixed response from business leaders who said the U.S. needs to do more to maintain a competitive edge in AI. Government agencies requested $973.5 million in nondefense AI research spending for the fiscal year ending in September 2020.
“Research in the important fields of fusion energy and plasma science promises both short-term and long-term benefits to industry and society at large,” said Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar. “These initiatives ensure that America continues to lead in these critical fields.” A total of $30 million will go to 10 U.S. multi-institutional research teams to support fusion energy research at international facilities.
The National Science Foundation recently awarded Bentley University a five-year, $1.4 million grant to develop, implement and evaluate curricula for college students that combine STEM and business, with an eye toward unraveling the “wicked” web of sustainability wrought by poverty, hunger, gender equality, climate change, energy use and other complex global issues.
The National Science Foundation has invested more than $250 million in nearly 700 recipients of the Fiscal Year 2019 Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) awards, one of NSF’s most prestigious honors. Over the next five years, each teacher-scholar will use at least $400,000 in award funds to carry out their proposed plans to advance their field and educate the next generation of researchers.
By using the Opportunity Zones designation, Secretary DeVos is focusing investment in projects that serve children in some of the neediest areas of the country. Establishing competitive priorities is a practice every Administration has used to encourage certain activities, assist specific groups, or focus government support in targeted areas.
Over the five-year period between FY 2014 and FY 2018, the 268,355 awards distributed by NIH had a dollar value of more than $126.0 billion --with the vast majority (98.8 percent in FY 2018) going to grantees in metropolitan areas. In general, this analysis focuses on the 123 metropolitan areas with at least 20 NIH awards in FY 2018.
In July, 1945, Vannevar Bush addressed a report to President Franklin D. Roosevelt arguing that basic research needed to become a priority supported by the federal government. As an engineer, businessman and government administrator, Bush recognized that each of these three worlds--academia, industry and government--plays a vital role in promoting scientific innovation. Crucially, he said, the government’s role should to provide the guiding vision for basic research, seed the related effort and sustain its pool of talent.