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Rubio, Coons Introduce Bill To Modernize Aspects Of National Lab System

May 5, 2015 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. Last night, U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Chris Coons (D-DE) introduced “The America INNOVATES Act,” legislation to modernize the United States’ national lab system through targeted reforms, making the nation’s innovation pipeline more efficient and giving the labs new flexibility to support innovation in partnership with the private sector. America’s 17 national labs conduct research in a broad range of scientific and technological fields, but are not always equipped to translate their scientific discoveries into commercial breakthroughs.

“For over 200 years, American innovation has given the world countless breakthroughs in the fields of science, medicine, energy and technology,” Rubio said. “Our network of national labs has long been a leading source of research, but unfortunately, bureaucratic red tape has hindered their ability to work with the private sector to translate this into American jobs. This legislation will make it easier for our labs to work together with businesses to bring groundbreaking research to fruition in the 21st century marketplace, research that will be critical to sparking innovation that will create higher paying jobs in this new century.” 

“Our nation’s economic growth is tied to our ability to turn promising ideas into job-supporting innovations,” said Coons. “Too many transformative ideas and scientific breakthroughs never leave our national labs, which squanders enormous potential. This bill will modernize critical aspects of our national lab system and give our labs new tools and flexibility to partner with the private sector, helping American businesses access the tools they need to innovate. The America INNOVATES Act will widen and streamline our nation’s innovation pipeline, helping to create badly needed jobs.”

The America INNOVATES Act would:

  • Streamline the management and coordination of the Department of Energy’s science and energy programs
  • Direct the Department of Energy to implement best practices to improve operations and management across the National Lab complex
  • Allow national labs to partner more effectively with the private sector to create new technologies and enhance technology commercialization
  • Allow the Department of Energy more flexibility to support applied research and development activities conducted by universities and nonprofits
  • Give startups more access to cutting-edge facilities at the national laboratories
  • The legislation is based, in part, on a June 2013 report by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, the Center for American Progress, and the Heritage Foundation that aimed to “bring greater efficiency and effectiveness to the DOE lab system, produce more relevant research, and increasingly allow that research to be pulled into the private sector.”