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SPIE commends U.S. Congress votes to continue America COMPETES Act

Bipartisan support is behind passage of legislation authorizing R&D, science education programs

21 December 2010

BELLINGHAM, Washington, USA -- SPIE leaders are among researchers, engineers, and others in the science and engineering community celebrating the passage today of the America COMPETES Act of 2010.

Today's bipartisan approval by the House of Representatives of the act as amended on Friday by the Senate authorizes $46 billion to continue important basic research, technology innovation, and science education programs for an additional three years.

"We are delighted to see continued strong support for the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Standards and Technology," said SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs.

"We are also happy to see approval for both continued and new spending for Department of Energy (DOE) research, and support for ARPA-E (Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy)," Arthurs said. "This is a vital step in building a vigorous innovation pathway, linking the excellent R&D produced by DOE and other agencies to successful commercialization and the creation of jobs."

"Strong bonds between industry and research universities are crucial to effectively applying the promise of science to the implementation of real-world solutions. New support provided by the act for innovation clusters, science parks, workforce development, and science, technology, engineering, and math education will strengthen those bonds," said M.J. Soileau, Chair of the SPIE Engineering, Science and Technology Policy Committee, and Univ. of Central Florida Vice President for Research and Commercialization.

Soileau noted that the act's new green initiatives at NIST and elsewhere in the Department of Commerce for manufacturing, construction, and jobs will help the nation create solutions with long-term positive impacts on the economy and the environment.

The bill includes $7.4 billion in new spending above 2010 levels, and directs a shift in emphasis away from basic research and development toward commercialization, market development and green initiatives.

Arthurs expressed some cautions while welcoming the bill's passage. Today's House vote authorizes continuation of the COMPETES program, but funding will be approved separately in an appropriations bill that is not expected to be voted on before February. The actual amounts appropriated for various programs could be less than authorized.

The first America COMPETES Act was passed in 2007, based on recommendations outlined in the "Rising Above the Gathering Storm" report released by the National Academy of Sciences in 2005. Funding for COMPETES was not included in the subsequent appropriations omnibus action, in what Arthurs described as "a damaging blow to getting America back on track."

SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, was founded in 1955 to advance light-based technologies. Serving more than 180,000 constituents from 168 countries, the Society advances emerging technologies through interdisciplinary information exchange, continuing education, publications, patent precedent and career and professional growth. SPIE annually organizes and sponsors approximately 25 major technical forums, exhibitions and education programs in North America, Europe, Asia and the South Pacific, and supports scholarships, grants and other education programs around the world.


Media Contact:

Amy Nelson
Public Relations Manager
Tel: +1 360 685 5478

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