In FY 2015, federal agencies obligated $30.5 billion to 1,016 academic institutions for science and engineering (S&E) activities. This represents a 2% decrease in current dollars from the $31.1 billion obligated to 1,003 academic institutions in FY 2014.
New launch vehicles promise cheaper access to space, either to Earth orbit and beyond or for suborbital missions. The cubesat revolution has made it cheaper than ever to build small but sophisticated spacecraft. That combination suggests that it’s feasible for scientists to develop missions without the need to go through government agencies for funding.
Reducing or eliminating the R&D tax credit to “pay for” a lower corporate rate would be a serious mistake. To boost productivity and competitiveness, Congress should lower the corporate rate while expanding the research credit’s Alternative Simplified Credit from 14 to 20 percent.
The SBIR program has been a legislated requirement of the Department of Defense, an agency responsible for roughly 40 percent of all federal extramural R&D spending, for more than three decades. One might expect that over that amount of time, the Department of Defense would have developed a system to become compliant with SBIR’s fundamental provision that a minimum threshold of innovation research spending be directed toward small businesses.
Last year American taxpayers spent more than $42 billion for scientific research and education at universities and nonprofits across the country. Most of this investment contributed to American innovation, economic competitiveness and national security. Taxpayers would be surprised to learn that approximately one-quarter of that funding -- more than $10 billion -- pays not for the cost of research but to cover universities’ and nonprofits’ overhead.
The U.S. Air Force’s new civilian head wants the service to retake its claim as the military’s innovation pioneer. To do that, it will have to renew investments in basic and applied research that in the past have enabled massive gains in stealth, computing technologies and composite materials, she said Tuesday.
It was an intriguing idea, Kalil thought: Could the U.S. government get better research results if it offered prizes? Could it become a “third leg of the stool”–in addition to contracts and grants – for the federal government to support innovation? “It occurred to me that the government has trillions of dollars contingent on failure,” Kalil recalled in an interview. “Why don’t we make payments that are contingent on success?”
A few years back, scientists at the biotechnology company Amgen set out to replicate 53 landmark studies that argued for new approaches to treat cancers using both existing and new molecules. They were able to replicate the findings of the original research only 11 percent of the time. Science has a reproducibility problem. And the ramifications are widespread.
Engineering researchers at the University of Minnesota have developed a process for 3D-printing stretchable, flexible, and sensitive electronic sensory devices that could give robots or prosthetic hands -- or even real skin -- the ability to mechanically sense their environment.
Last fall’s divisive presidential campaign was still underway when Jim Olds, who leads the biology directorate at the National Science Foundation (NSF) in Arlington, Virginia, began worrying that the agency could soon be facing a serious budget crunch. It was already under a government-wide spending freeze, and Olds wanted to be prepared if things got worse. So he asked his staff to begin thinking about how to handle a 20% cut in the directorate’s $724 million budget.