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Hickenlooper, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Bill to Boost U.S. Leadership in Emerging Tech

Jul 10, 2024

Legislation would create a nonprofit foundation to support NIST

WASHINGTON – This week, U.S. Senators John Hickenlooper, Chris Coons, Todd Young, and Deb Fischer introduced the Expanding Partnerships for Innovation and Competitiveness (EPIC) Act to establish a nonprofit foundation that would support the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and boost public-private collaboration on U.S. technological innovation and competitiveness.

“Whether it’s AI or quantum computing, the United States is pushing the boundaries of technological innovation on all fronts,” said Hickenlooper. “There are no second chances with technologies this powerful; NIST needs every tool at its disposal to ensure responsible R&D from the start.”

“NIST plays a critical role in ensuring American leadership in science and technology,” said Coons. “The EPIC Act, by establishing a nonprofit foundation to support NIST, would fuel public-private partnerships and mobilize resources to support U.S. leadership on emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, biotech, and quantum computing. This bipartisan, bicameral bill already has widespread support, and I encourage my colleagues to sign on.”

“Maintaining and encouraging research and development in the United States is critical to winning the technological race against China and other adversaries,” said Young. “Our bipartisan legislation will support these efforts by establishing an independent foundation to identify and foster innovative public-private partnerships across the country and strengthen the American economy.”

“America should leverage every possible resource to stay ahead of adversaries like China,” said Fischer. “Our bill will encourage public-private collaboration to keep the United States at the forefront of emerging technologies, including AI, cybersecurity, advanced computing, and more. A bipartisan coalition in Congress recognizes the need for our legislation, and I look forward to advancing the EPIC Act in the Senate.”

As part of the Department of Commerce, NIST works to promote U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness in science and technology and the Expanding Partnerships for Innovation and Competitiveness (EPIC) Act would establish a foundation to support NIST achieve its mission. Congress has established similar foundations to support the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Energy, and other federal agencies. 

Specifically, the EPIC Act would create a nonprofit Foundation for Standards and Metrology, helping NIST:

  • Train the emerging technology workforce of the future and retain top talent at the agency.
  • Mobilize private and philanthropic funding to support critical scientific and technical initiatives.
  • Collaborate more closely with the private sector, nonprofit organizations, and institutions of higher education.

The EPIC Act is endorsed by four former directors of NIST as well as SEMI Americas, the Semiconductor Industry Association, NIST Coalition, SPIE, SeedAI, Institute for Progress, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, Center for AI Policy, Telecommunications Industry Association, Institute for AI Policy and Strategy, Carnegie Mellon University, University of Colorado Boulder, Americans for Responsible Innovation, Chainguard, CJW Quantum Consulting, American Physical Society, ACT | The App Association, CivAI, SandboxAQ, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and Google.

Companion legislation in the House of Representatives, introduced by Representatives Haley Stevens and Jay Obernolte, previously passed out of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee unanimously.

Full text of the bill available HERE.  


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