Office of Science and Technology Policy Blog

  • We the Geeks: SUBMERGED!

    What better way dive into ocean science than to hear from an expert living 63 feet below the surface? To celebrate the end of National Oceans Month and one year of progress on President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, the White House and the Weather Channel will host “We the Geeks: SUBMERGED!” this Wednesday, June 25, at 2:00 p.m. ET.

  • The Overwhelming Consensus of Climate Scientists Worldwide

    Overwhelmingly, scientific evidence – including millions of measurements and observations of Earth from land, air, sea, and space – is telling us that:

    • the global climate has been changing over the past several decades in a manner that is highly unusual compared to nature climatic variability;
    • human emissions of greenhouse gases are the dominant cause of these unusual changes;
    • these changes are already having significant adverse impacts on human wellbeing and on ecosystems; and
    • that this harm will continue to grow unless and unless the offending emissions are greatly reduced.

    The extremely rigorous and thorough 2013 and 2014 working group reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), each developed by hundreds of scientists and technical experts from around the world, as well as the massive third U.S. national Climate Assessment, which was developed by more than 300 of the Nation’s top climate scientists and released by the Obama Administration last month, have further strengthened these fundamental scientific understandings.

    I encourage anyone who questions whether there is widespread agreement among scientists about the reality and causes of climate change to read the selections provided below from these recent reports and earlier studies and statements by scientific leaders from around the world.

  • From Lab Bench to Bedside: Accelerating the Commercialization of Biomedical Innovations

    Ed. Note: This article was originally posted on the NIH website.

    We are delighted to announce a new collaboration between the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) to empower entrepreneurial scientists and advance the Lab-to-Market priorities set forth in the President’s Management Agenda. The Federal government invests over $130 billion on research and development (R&D) each year, and the President’s 2015 budget supports a sustained commitment to accelerate the transfer of promising Federally-funded technologies from the laboratory to the commercial marketplace.

    Some academic researchers and entrepreneurs who receive SBIR or STTR funding from NIH will now be eligible to participate in a pilot of the NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps™) program that is specially tailored for biomedical technologies. First launched in 2011, the NSF I-Corps program is based on the “Lean Launchpad” curriculum developed by entrepreneurship expert Steve Blank to improve how tech start-ups bring their products into the marketplace. This intensive, mentor-driven experience is changing the way that NSF-funded researchers think about the commercialization process, and now it will be available for NIH-funded researchers as well.

    As part of the I-Corps program, researchers learn key Lean Launchpad principles, such as:

    • Commercializing a new invention requires the identification of a viable business model, not just an increase in the technological maturity of an invention.
    • Discovering the elements of a successful business model (e.g. value proposition, customer segments, sources of revenue) requires gathering evidence to test and refine their initial hypotheses by talking to many different potential customers and partners—leaving the lab and “getting out of the building”.
    • Developing prototypes and getting early feedback on these prototypes from customers can reduce the time and cost associated with the commercialization process.
    • Gathering strong evidence that validates their business model can increase the likelihood that an investor will back their startup.

  • Materials Genome Initiative Turns Three, Continues Path to Revitalize American Manufacturing

    This week marks the third anniversary of the launch by President Obama of the Materials Genome Initiative (MGI)—a commitment to work across sectors toward the goal of doubling the pace of advanced materials discovery, innovation, manufacture, and commercialization. The MGI is part of a broad Administration-wide commitment—including new steps announced earlier this week—to take concrete actions that spur innovation and entrepreneurship to revitalize American manufacturing.

    The Obama Administration is expanding Federal investment in the Materials Genome Initiative to ensure U.S. leadership in inventing and manufacturing advanced materials, including an investment by five Federal agencies of more than $150 million in ground-breaking research to support the MGI.

  • Accelerating Green Technology Transfer to Impact American Lives

    Since the start of the Obama Administration, being a responsible steward of our planet is a role that President Obama has embraced through action and example. Accelerated development and deployment of green technology is a critical part of supporting sustainable growth, and the Administration has gone to great lengths to bring cutting-edge green technology from development stages to real-world application. Whether by cutting pollution, unleashing troves of climate data to empower American communities to prepare for the future, or leading international efforts to combat global climate change, agencies across the Administration are taking bold actions to grow the economy while leaving a green legacy for future generations.

    As President Obama said in his State of the Union address earlier this year, “We know that the nation that goes all-in on innovation today will own the global economy tomorrow.  This is an edge America cannot surrender.  Federally-funded research helped lead to the ideas and inventions behind Google and smartphones.” Some of the most exciting breakthroughs in green technology are likewise getting their start in our federal labs on a daily basis, including:

    • A game-changing technology under development by the U.S. Navy that creates fuel from seawater by recovering carbon dioxide and hydrogen and converting them into a liquid hydrocarbon fuel. Earlier this month, an internal combustion powered model aircraft took the first ever flight fueled by seawater as carbon feedstock;
    • An ultrafast DC charging system that can charge an electric vehicle in 15 minutes, developed by Argonne National Laboratory. The government-developed charging system can add 60 to 80 miles of range to an electric vehicle on a single, 15-minute charge, and has the potential to be accessed through smartgrid and wireless charging communication;
    • A breakthrough geothermal heat pump developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory in partnership with the company ClimateMaster, which can help save money and energy by increasing efficiency;
    • A new technology to remove hazardous heavy metals from water streams, developed through a partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency;
    • A prize-winning process from the National Energy Technology Laboratory that improves the capture of carbon dioxide from power plants while reducing the cost.  

  • SmartAmerica Challenge: Harnessing the Power of the Internet of Things

    Today the Internet mostly connects people to information. But what kinds of new products and services might be possible if it also connected people and public service agencies to vehicles, medical devices, climate sensors, traffic monitors, water systems, lighting, and more?

    To help answer that question, Geoff Mulligan and Sokwoo Rhee, two energetic Presidential Innovation Fellows at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), launched the SmartAmerica Challenge in December 2013.  The goal of the challenge was to engage the public and private sectors to explore the tangible benefits of the Internet of Things.   With more than 24 teams comprised of more than 100 companies and other organizations, the Smart America Challenge participants have created projects that demonstrate the economic and societal benefits of the internet of things.

    Today the White House hosted an event with SmartAmerica Challenge teams from across the country.  At the event, select teams demonstrated their projects and the value of the Internet of Things. As Assistant to the President for Science and Technology John Holdren noted at the event, the federal government has invested nearly $300 million in research related to the Internet of Things over past five years.  The Internet of Things holds tremendous potential to create jobs and grow new businesses. 

    Tomorrow, our colleagues at NIST will host the SmartAmerica Expo at the Washington DC Convention Center.  The Expo will feature keynote remarks by senior government leaders including U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park and General Services Administrator Dan Tangherlini, as well as live demonstrations by 24 SmartAmerica technical teams.  The projects will showcase ways that the Internet of Things can improve transportation, emergency services, health care, security, energy conservation, and manufacturing.

    To learn more and to register to attend the SmartAmerica Expo, click here.

    Richard Voyles is Assistant Director, Robotics and Cyber-Physical Systems at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy