A Giant R&D Slush Fund
A Catch Up Newsletter
Hello from FedInvent,
The FedInvent team took a summer newsletter hiatus to focus on integrating a host of new data sources on federal innovation and science and technology policy into our platform. We've been publishing the FedInvent Reports to the Wayfinder Digital website but haven't published a weekly newsletter.
Today’s newsletter presents the highlights of what's been going on in the federal innovation ecosphere and the astronomical amount of new R&D and innovation funded during the last couple of months.
First, the links to the FedInvent Reports. The link below will take you to the 2022 FedInvent Links page. This page has links to each FedInvent Patent or Patent Application Report and to the companion newsletter link pages. The full link is:
A Giant R&D Slush Fund
It's been a busy summer for analysts and technology transfer professionals who keep track of federal science and technology policy and the new funding opportunities used to implement and operationalize those goals. Between recently enacted legislation, announcements of new policy initiatives, and a host of new contracts from the Department of Defense and funding new organizations to facilitate high-risk projects and expanding regional technology hubs, there are billions of dollars for innovation-focused contracts and grants slushing around. If you are a scientist, a researcher, or a university technology transfer professional, you are in heaven. Here are the highlights.
The National Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Initiative
The Biden Administration announced the $2 billion National Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Initiative (NBBI). NBBI was created by Executive Order, not through new legislation from Congress. Executive Order 14081 was signed on September 12, 2022, to coincide with the Summit on Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing, an event hosted by the White House and attended by a who's who of science and technology cognoscenti. At the Summit, the White House announced that the program will "catalyze the establishment of the domestic bioindustrial manufacturing base that is accessible to US innovators." (Huh?)
NBBI is not associated with any new appropriations from Capitol Hill. The NBBI initiative will be funded by reprogramming existing funds. Other elements of the announcement highlight existing programs that align with the initiative's goal but are already funded and operating.
The Department of Defense awarded BioMADE as the Bioindustrial Manufacturing Innovation Institute in October 2020. BioMADE officially launched in April 2021. BioMADE is one of the entities featured in the NBBI program information. BioMADE, headquartered at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul, collaborates with public and private entities to advance sustainable and reliable bioindustrial manufacturing technologies.
The NBBI announcement also cites USDA's program to "support independent, innovative, and sustainable American fertilizer production to supply American farmers, which can make use of advances in biotechnology and biomanufacturing." USDA received $500 million in new grant funding for this effort during the Summer of 2022.
NBBI covers just about anything that can be tagged as biotech or biomanufacturing related. This includes programs for advanced development of bio-based materials for defense supply chains, such as fuels, fire-resistant composites, polymers and resins, and protective materials; aviation; bio-industrial domestic manufacturing infrastructure; enhanced biosecurity'; and the creation of new Manufacture America public-private institutes like BioMADE.
The program will stand up BioFab Foundries, a first-of-its-kind US facility that integrates engineering, automation, and computation with biology. BioFab Foundries will be accessible to US innovators to manufacture preclinical and early-stage clinical products. An important element of the program is an increased focus on biosecurity.
Some context. The Biden Administration's NBBI program seeks to fund more R&D and biotechnology investments. From 2019 to 2021, venture capitalists plowed $35 billion into biotech companies with advanced platform technologies that could transform the industry, according to a report from McKinsey. Venture capital biotech funding peaked in the first quarter of 2021 and has slightly declined in 2022.
The Inflation Reduction Act Is A Green Tech Bill
The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which doesn't do much to reduce inflation, funds over $369 billion for energy security and climate change mitigation. The funding for climate and energy-related R&D includes:
Department of Energy (DOE) will receive $2 billion for improvements and projects at the Department's National Labs. Most of the money—$1.5 billion—will go to DOE's science office for new facilities and upgrades at its ten national labs.
DOE has $100 million to facilitate R&D for high-assay, low-enriched uranium (HALEU). HALEU is required for most advanced nuclear reactors to achieve smaller designs that get more power per unit of volume.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) with $50 million for competitive R&D grants and $150 million for research- and systems-related improvements
Environmental Protection Agency received $25 million for air pollution mitigation R&D grants and activities.
Increases in R&D tax credits from $250,000 to $500,000 for small businesses.
Hand Over the IP
The climate change R&D and intellectual property landscape won't be without its own challenges. The World Trade Organization (WTO) is proposing forced technology transfer policies for accelerating the adoption of new technology and dealing with climate change. Much of this intellectual property will be inventions funded by US tax dollars.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres said, "Removing obstacles to knowledge sharing and technological transfer - including intellectual property constraints - is crucial for a rapid and fair renewable energy transition[…] renewable energy technologies, such as battery storage, must be treated as essential and freely available global public goods."
This will be interesting to watch.
USPTO Climate Change Pilot Program
While we're on climate change, the USPTO Climate Mitigation Pilot Program, which advanced climate change-related patent applications out of order, has 1,000 slots available. As of September 20, 2022, one-hundred applications for the program have been filed. USPTO granted thirty-seven (37).
The Hypersonics R&D Bonanza
The Air Force awarded Raytheon Missiles and Defense, Tucson, Arizona, a $985,348,124 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract with performance incentives for the Hypersonic Attack Cruise Missile (HACM). Raytheon and its teaming partner Northrop Grumman will provide HACM weapon system design, development, and initial delivery through the performance of model-based critical design review, qualification, integration, manufacturing, and testing. DOD obligated Fiscal 2022 research and development funds of $100 million at the time of the award.
This contract resulted from a shoot-out among the three vendors holding SciFiRE contracts to develop air-breathing hypersonic cruise missile prototypes. — Boeing Company, Lockheed Martin, and Raytheon Missile Defense. In 2020, the US Air Force engaged in a multi-year, bilateral project arrangement with Australia known as the Southern Cross Integrated Flight Research Experiment (SCiFire) to deliver hypersonic missile capability. The Air Force plans to deliver a HACM capability with operational utility by fiscal year 2027.
The FedInvent team looks forward to more Bayh-Dole scofflaw patents and patent applications from this important R&D.
The CHIPS Act
The CHIPS Act of 2022 also includes funding for even more R&D, officially called the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) Act of 2022. The government loves a good acronym. The Department of Commerce will manage the $50 billion CHIPS for America Fund, which includes semiconductor manufacturing incentives, R&D, and workforce activities. The first project receiving federal loans and funding for America's semiconductor industry is Intel's project to build a new fab in Ohio.
No new law comes without a new bureaucracy. The CHIPS Act creates a significant new science and technology policy and funding infrastructure. To manage this pool of R&D money, the Act establishes the National Semiconductor Technology Center (NSTC). NSTC will research and prototype advanced semiconductor technology and focus on advancing semiconductor design, scaling new manufacturing processes, developing new tools and materials, and improving the lab-to-fab product flow. In addition, the bill establishes the National Advanced Packaging Manufacturing Program (the Advanced Packaging program or NAPM). The Director of the Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will lead NAPMP. NAPMP will focus on transitioning from conventional packaging of semiconductors to new advanced packaging technology. The CHIPS Act provides $11 billion in funding for NSTC, Advanced Manufacturing, and three new Manufacture America institutes.
The CHIPS Act establishes the CHIPS R&D Office to oversee these entities. The CHIPS R&D Office will incubate (their word, not ours) the NSTC and manage the Industrial Advisory Committee, Advanced Packaging program, Manufacturing USA and its new institutes, and R&D activities in collaboration with existing NIST laboratories and the NIST Office of Advanced Manufacturing.
Some context. The CHIPS Act funds the equivalent of one month of global semiconductor sales. According to the Semiconductor Industry Association, global semiconductor sales reached $556 billion in 2021. US semiconductor companies accounted for sales totaling $258 billion, or 46% of the global market. Global semiconductor industry sales were $49.0 billion in July 2022. Time will tell if the federal government, which manufactures nothing, can effectively engage in industrial policymaking to improve US competitiveness and onshore more US-based manufacturing of semiconductors.
Here is a link to the Semiconductor Industry Association's Fact Sheet on the CHIPS Act with the industry's view of the Act. Spoiler alert, the industry is thrilled.
If you are a science and technology policy nerd, here is a document for you. On January 24, 2022, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) issued a Request for Information (RFI) seeking input from stakeholders to inform the planning and design of programs authorized under the CHIPS Act. In August 2022, NIST released a summary of the information it received on its RFI. The document is a NIST Special Publication titled, "Incentives, Infrastructure, and Research and Development Needs to Support a Strong Domestic Semiconductor Industry Summary of Responses to Request for Information." You can read the document here.
The Bottom Line
It will be a while before the innovation prognosticators, present company included, will be able to assess the success of this spending. Will the programs spending taxpayer money allocated by these laws and initiatives increase American competitiveness, build new manufacturing capabilities, and stimulate the expansion of the federal innovation ecosphere beyond California, Massachusetts, Texas, and New York? For now, grant writers and federal program managers will be very busy.
Before We Go
A Few Numbers
The USPTO granted 269,084 new patents for the calendar year 2022 through September 27, 2022, the last Tuesday of the month. There are 5,224 FedInvent patents (1.94%), patents are those that benefit from funding from the US taxpayer. Universities and colleges received 2,935 (56%) of the FedInvent patents. Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs) received 461 patents (9%).
A New Search Platform
USPTO is retiring its legacy full-text patent and patent application databases, PATFT and APPFT, as of September 30, 2022. The Office moves to a new integrated Patent Center for public patent and patent application search. With this change comes a change in the links to patents and applications we include in the FedInvent Reports and here in the newsletter.
As part of this move, USPTO won't be maintaining its permalinks. That means old links won't work. We're old school here at FedInvent. We believe a permalink should be, well, permanent. Unfortunately, USPTO doesn't appear to subscribe to this internet fundamental.
USPTO retiring the legacy permalinks means the links we use to help you navigate to the USPTO version of a FedInvent portfolio patent or patent application won't work. We are updating the links to the patents on the new USPTO platform for new FedInvent Reports published before September 30, 2022. Please stay tuned while we make this fix.
The good news is It looks like the links to the PDFs of the image versions of the patents and patent applications will continue to work.
We'll miss the old app's vintage look and feel and its easy-to-use interface.
Thanks for reading FedInvent. See you next time.
The FedInvent Team
FedInvent tells the stories of inventors, investigators, and innovators. Wayfinder Digital's FedInvent Project follows the federal innovation ecosphere, taxpayer money, and the inventions it pays for. FedInvent is a work in progress. Please reach out if you have questions or suggestions. You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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