Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2021

Floor Speech

Date: Aug. 7, 2020
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. LIPINSKI. Mr. Speaker, as we continue to confront the health and economic crises presented by COVID-19, Americans are understandably anxious about the future. I take hope in our history of meeting extraordinary challenges with new innovations, and I believe research and development will be a key part in addressing today's challenges as well.

Our federal government supports some of the brightest and most creative minds in the world at America's colleges and universities through research grants administered by the National Science Foundation. Particularly in this time of economic turmoil, we must ensure that we fully capitalize on these research investments by transitioning scientific discovery into tangible products, creating new businesses for a healthy and prosperous America.

My amendment highlights the importance of programs like the National Science Foundation Innovation Corps in facilitating tech transfer. I- Corps, as it is known, began in 2011 and utilizes the Lean LaunchPad curriculum developed by serial entrepreneur Steve Blank to train faculty, students, and other researchers in entrepreneurship. The immersive experience requires participants to get out of the lab and interview industry leaders and potential customers. Researchers gain an improved understanding of how their work could be further applied to meet real needs in our nation. These insights improve potential commercialization of their work and influence future research directions.

According to the spring 2019 Innovation Corps biennial report, since inception in 2011 I-Corps has trained 1,315 teams with a total of 3,745 people. These participants have raised rnore than $300 million in follow-on funding and created 644 startups. The report highlights recent participating teams, including Respira Labs, which spun out of the University of California Berkley to develop a technology incorporating AI to predict chronic obstructive pulmonary disease attacks; Diligent Robotics, which develops robotic equipment that supports healthcare staff in Texas; and Ecovia Renewables, founded at the University of Michigan to create compostable alternatives to petrochemical polymers found in a variety of commercial products. These and many other companies are now in existence due to the National Science Foundation research funding and the training that enabled their founders to transition their findings into tangible products Americans can use.

I thank my colleagues on the Appropriations Committee for increasing funding for this critical program in this year's CJS appropriations bill, to a total of $40 million. I encourage my colleagues to continue their strong support for National Science Foundation university research programs and I-Corps in future budgets.