Today, Indiana is home to multiple world-class universities and research institutes, as well as federal laboratories that introduce innovative technologies to the U.S. economy. Given the significance of these entities to our state and the anticipated growth in science and technology, it is important that federal policymakers strive to spark innovation and remove barriers facing entrepreneurs.
Over the next decade, more than half of America's economic growth is expected to come from the fields of science and technology.
One way Congress currently encourages new development and technology is through the competitive Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program. The STTR program provides an avenue for small businesses and research institutions to partner together to develop commercially viable products. Many Hoosier small businesses, universities and research organizations annually benefit from this program.
While the STTR program has enjoyed success, I believe it can work more effectively. Too many institutions face hurdles that prevent the smooth transition of ideas into commercially viable products. Specifically, many innovators face an uphill climb to receive grants for proof-of-concept research. Expanding financial opportunities for this early-stage research is a key to technological growth and encouraging new discoveries.
Congress should make it easier for innovators to move products directly into the marketplace, not strangle their ideas with red tape.
In June, I joined with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) to introduce the Technology and Research Accelerating National Security and Future Economic Resiliency Act. This bipartisan legislation would facilitate proof-of-concept research and other innovative technology transfer activities at universities, research institutes and federal laboratories, in order to accelerate the commercialization of federally funded research and technologies.
Our bill would build on the existing STTR program by opening grant opportunities to early-stage concepts and technologies.
Indiana's state universities and research institutes – national leaders in many research fields – would directly benefits from this legislation. Institutions of higher learning such as Purdue University, Indiana University and the University of Notre Dame face significant hurdles as they seek to transition nascent research and technologies into the marketplace.
Additionally, our legislation would help Indiana small businesses who help take innovative ideas and translate them into sellable products and services. Empowering these businesses will create jobs and spur economic growth.
Because so many important industries depend on this research and want to ensure its viability, our legislation is supported by a diverse group of organizations, including the American Council on Education, American Energy Innovation Council, Association of American Medical Colleges, and Association of Independent Research Institutes.
As consumers, we see the end product, but rarely do we see the development process. With every successful good or service that improves our lives, a long road filled with obstacles was traveled in order to bring the product to the market. Our legislation seeks to make that road a little smoother for our innovators and entrepreneurs.
As I travel across Indiana, Hoosiers tell me they want commonsense solutions to our nation's biggest problems, such as improving the economy and job creation. This legislation would create the kinds of jobs that will allow Indiana's economy to keep pace in today's ever-changing global marketplace.
Dan Coats is a Republican U.S. Senator from Indiana.
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