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AAU Statement on Introduction of American Innovation and Competitiveness Act


Following is a statement by the Association of American Universities on the introduction today of the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act by Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Gary Peters (D-MI).

The Association of American Universities appreciates the introduction of the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act. This bill contains several provisions we support and that we believe would advance American science and innovation.

For example, the bill reaffirms NSF’s merit-based peer-review process and creates a new commercialization and proof-of-concept grant program at the National Science Foundation (NSF), which we have long advocated. The bill also clarifies that a legitimate means to achieve broader impacts on NSF grant proposals is for researchers to focus on improving in-class instruction of undergraduate classes in the scientific disciplines that relate to their NSF-funded research.

While we support these provisions, we are concerned that the bill as introduced does not contain any funding authorization levels. Over 500 companies, universities, and national business, science, and university organizations have endorsed “Innovation: An American Imperative,” which calls on Congress and the Administration to provide at least a four-percent real annual increase in funding for major federal research agencies, including NSF and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Earlier this year we were pleased to see the Senate approve legislation authorizing five-percent annual growth for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

It is our understanding that an amendment will be offered during the committee markup of this legislation that includes funding authorization levels. We appreciate the intention of committee leaders to provide an annual increase of four percent, not counting inflation, in funding. As this legislation advances, we urge the Committee to approve this amendment to provide authorized funding levels for NSF and NIST.

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The Association of American Universities (AAU) is an association of 60 U.S. and two Canadian public and private research universities. It focuses on issues such as funding for research, research policy issues, and graduate and undergraduate education. AAU member universities are on the leading edge of innovation, scholarship, and solutions that contribute to the nation's economy, security, and wellbeing. AAU’s 60 U.S. universities award nearly one-half of all U.S. doctoral degrees and 55 percent of those in STEM fields.