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Sensing & Measurement

NIST Technology Innovation Program solicits proposals for infrastructure projects

The Technology Innovation Program (TIP) of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced today that it is seeking proposals for high-risk, high-reward research projects in two areas of Critical National Need: Civil Infrastructure and Manufacturing. Based on FY 2009 funds, TIP expects to award approximately a total of $25 million in first-year funding for R&D projects focused in the two Critical National Need areas.

TIP officials plan to allocate approximately $15 million in first-year funding for R&D projects in manufacturing that would enable better, more cost-effective use of advanced materials in innovative products. Approximately $10 million in first-year funding will be allocated for civil infrastructure, including innovative, cost-effective sensor and sensor-network technologies for non-destructive testing and monitoring of structural health.

H. Felix Wu, a program manager for TIP at NIST, said that last year's solicitation focused on inspection and monitoring of civil infrastructure as one of its areas of national need, after a gap analysis was performed to determine that TIP funding would not duplicate other federal funding.

Wu said the benefits of infrastructure inspection and monitoring are "easy to see if you picture the I-35 bridge collapse in Minnesota" Besides the loss of life, detours required during reconstruction cost commuters and businesses about $400,000 each day, he said. (See information from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, PDF)

Wu chaired the recent conference on Nondestructive Characterization for Composite Materials, Aerospace Engineering, Civil Infrastructure, and Homeland Security at the SPIE Smart Structures/NDE symposium. He has been a conference chair at the event since 2003. He said the conference, and the symposium in general, welcomes the convergence of different interest in electrical, civil, mechanical engineering as well as information technology and materials science. "There's lots of interaction," he said, and expressed the hope that proposals submitted will reflect that intersection of disciplines.

For detailed information on the announced competition, including submission requirements, deadlines and the scope of the two Critical National Need topic areas, see the Federal Funding Opportunity at www.grants.gov, the Federal Register Notice at http://www.nist.gov/tip/comp_09/2009_frn_final.pdf, or the TIP Web site at www.nist.gov/tip.

TIP supports, promotes, and accelerates innovation in the United States through funding high-risk, high-reward research in areas of critical national need. The merit-based competitive program can fund cost-shared R&D projects by single small-sized or medium-sized businesses and joint ventures that additionally may include institutions of higher education, non-profit research organizations and national laboratories. TIP awards are limited to no more than $3 million total over three years for a single company project and no more than $9 million total over five years for a joint venture. TIP was established by the 2007 America COMPETES Act.

Deadline for submissions is 23 June, 2009. NIST will hold a public meeting for prospective TIP proposers and other interested parties on April 8, 2009, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. Eastern time, at the NIST facility in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Additional TIP Proposers' conferences may be scheduled and will be announced on the TIP web site www.nist.gov/tip.

For more information, see the following links:
Full 2009 TIP announcement from NIST.
TIP awards from 2008.
TIP general information (PDF).