NIST Director Testifies Before House Science Subcommittee on Agency Reauthorization; Touts Success of the Manufacturing USA Program in Promoting Technology Transfer

Mar 16, 2020


Last Wednesday, the House Science Committee, Subcommittee on Research and Technology, invited Under Secretary of Commerce and Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Dr. Walter Copan to testify before the Subcommittee on reauthorizing the agency. NIST was last authorized in 2016 as part of the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act. Director Copan’s testimony covered each of the technologies the Trump Administration is collectively referring to as “industries of the future,” including Quantum Information Science, Artificial Intelligence, 5G, Advanced Manufacturing, and Biotechnology. He specifically commented on how NIST catalyzes partnerships between industry, academia, government, and other organizations to promote U.S. innovation and economic competitiveness.

Following Dr. Copan’s testimony, Subcommittee Chair Haley Stevens (D-MI) stated how she is continually impressed with how much the agency is able to do with the limited dollars they are allocated. She also asked Dr. Copan to elaborate on the technology transfer program that NIST runs to help promote technology transfer throughout the Federal government. Dr. Copan commented that building a strong entrepreneurial R&D workforce by providing tools and services that make innovations easier reach market development, and by reducing the administrative burden, is a key goal of NIST’s technology transfer intuitive.

Dr. Copan also stated that NIST is in the midst now of advancing the draft legislative proposal to improve technology transfer form lab-to-market and increase return on investment that this Committee will be considering. The proposal will be based on a green paper released by NIST and previously reported on in the newsletter in April last year. ASME will monitor and report on any legislative advancement that comes out of this effort.

Subcommittee Ranking Member Jim Baird (R-IN) directed his questioning on the increased focus of the Administration on biotechnology. Dr. Copan referenced Manufacturing USA’s National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals (NIIMBL). NIST is the lead-agency to the Institute, and Dr. Copan commented that the Institute is widely regarded as “wildly successful,” receiving broad support from industry and academia. Dr. Copan goes on to discuss the work being done at all 14 Manufacturing USA Institutes, praising the network’s ability to promote the translation of technologies from laboratory into the bioeconomy marketplace.

To watch a full recording of the hearing, please visit:,6RZHU,M3WXSL,R3Z3K,1.

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