Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced that Congress passed as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) a provision to extend and enhance a Department of Defense (DOD) Proof of Concept Commercialization Pilot Program based on key provisions from her legislation to help accelerate the commercialization of basic research. This provision authorizes military departments across DOD to make competitive awards to universities, non-profit research institutions, and federal laboratories, like Brookhaven National Laboratory, to carry out programming to help translate more of the estimated $1 billion a year of research funding secured by Long Island research institutions into successful small businesses and science and technology jobs on Long Island and across New York. The NDAA passed the House of Representatives last week and passed the Senate today.
There are often few resources available to help researchers who work with federal laboratories or who are based at universities or non-profit research organizations to translate their scientific discoveries into marketable products and companies. There is a particular need for “proof of concept” funding, which is aimed at helping researchers prove that their research can be practically and concretely used, better positioning the technology for private investment critical to launching a company. New York State currently ranks second in the nation in university research funding – securing approximately $6 billion in total federal investment across research institutions each year – but only attracts 7 percent of the nation’s venture capital needed to grow successful companies.
To help close this gap, Gillibrand joined local leaders at Stony Brook’s Calverton Business Incubator in June of this year to announce the introduction of the Technology and Research Accelerating National Security and Future Economic Resiliency (TRANSFER) Act, which would create a competitive grant program for universities, colleges, federal laboratories and non-profit research institutions to help scientists and researchers secure valuable business resources to bring their discoveries to the marketplace and create new high-tech companies and jobs.
“New York is home to some of the world’s brightest minds and best ideas to grow our economy,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This important provision will help bring high-tech innovation into the marketplace, producing cutting-edge small businesses and new jobs. Equipping our scientists and students with support and access to much-needed gap funding will go a long way towards creating the next high-tech industry and a new generation of innovative leaders who are critical to the future of our economy.”
“I thank Senator Gillibrand for providing the opportunity for proof of concept funding through the Department of Defense (DOD) Proof of Concept Commercialization Pilot Program and for her support for the commercialization of high-tech startups on Long Island and in New York State. The proof of concept stage is critical time for early stage high-tech startup companies and it is very difficult for startups to secure funding at this stage. The Proof of Concept Commercialization Program provision in the National Defense Authorization Act will assist researchers and entrepreneurs with commercializing university-based technologies and support the growth of our innovation economy,” said Mark Lesko, Executive Director of Accelerate Long Island.
“Federal investment in commercializing the research conducted at our country’s world-class universities, institutions and laboratories will create high-tech jobs and boost the economy, and thus the Long Island Association commends Senator Gillibrand for her efforts to enhance this innovative pilot program,” said Kevin Law, President & CEO of the Long Island Association.
“The need to support basic science research is greater than ever,” said Samuel L. Stanley, Jr., M.D.,President, Stony Brook University. I thank Senator Gillibrand for her leadership on this issue and applaud Congress for taking a proactive approach and passing this significant piece of legislation. The world has been transformed by federal support of research and I’m confident that the TRANSFER Act will leverage both Stony Brook and Brookhaven National Laboratory to continue to advance technology transfer in the STEM fields, which in turn will lead to opportunities for future innovators and creators of our region.”
Under the NDAA Proof of Concept Commercialization Pilot Program, military departments across DOD are authorized to establish a competitive grant program to help universities, federal laboratories and other non-profit research institutions identify and grow the development and commercialization of initial discoveries, making potential products more attractive to state, local and private investment, and providing important technology for use by the military. Winning institutions are eligible for up to $1 million in federal funding.
This investment would help create or strengthen “proof of concept” funds and technology transfer programs. Universities and institutions would be able to use grants for important technology development activities like evaluating the commercial potential of existing discoveries, including technical validations, market research, clarifying intellectual property rights, and investigating commercial and business opportunities.