Press Releases

Rubio Seeks Grant Program Review After Harvard Professor Charged Over China Ties
By Kate O’Keeffe and Brian Gormley
February 28, 2020
Wall Street Journal
 
Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio is calling for a government grant program for high-tech startups to examine its practices after a Harvard University professor connected to one recipient was charged with lying about receiving millions of dollars in Chinese funding.
 
In a letter sent earlier this month, Sen. Rubio (R., Fla.) cited the charges against the professor, Charles Lieber, in asking the Small Business Administration to provide details on how it ensures that recipients of the grants “do not have improper ties to foreign entities.”
 
A startup co-founded by Mr. Lieber, a chemistry professor and expert on nanotechnology, received more than $5.4 million from the Defense Department, the National Science Foundation and other agencies in grants administered by the Small Business Administration.
 
The grants were awarded to Nanosys Inc. from 2002 to 2006, according to a review of the awards. That was before the period under scrutiny by Massachusetts federal prosecutors in a criminal complaint last month. It alleges that Mr. Lieber received more than $15 million in U.S. funding since 2008 while also taking money from Chinese government programs and academic institutions.
 
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“I am deeply concerned about the flow of federal research dollars,” said Sen. Rubio, who is chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, in his letter to the Small Business Administration, which was viewed by The Wall Street Journal.
 
The Small Business Administration calls the grant programs, which set aside billions to fund small high-tech businesses, “America’s seed fund.” Sen. Rubio asked the administration to provide information by mid-March on its measures to ensure that grant recipients don’t have improper foreign ties and to detail what penalties are in place if they do, according to the letter.
 
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Mr. Lieber’s startup, Nanosys, was trying to commercialize technology the professor developed, when it received the grants via the Small Business Administration.
 
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