Collins pushes bill for scientific growth

U.S. Rep. Chris Collins visited Geneseo on Sept. 13 to introduce new legislation regarding funding for scientific research grants. This legislation, called the Technology and Research Accelerating National Security and Future Economic Resiliency Act of 2013, builds upon a previous program that awarded grants to groups involved in technology transfer programs at universities, research institutes and national laboratories.

“The TRANSFER Act represents something we do here very well; it’s called high-end workforce development,” President Christopher Dahl said. “We are training the scientists of the future here. We are the third-largest producers of [future] Ph.D.s in [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] science fields among all master’s degrees in the nation.”

Collins recently received support from Geneseo for legislation that he has been promoting that would help scientists commercialize their ideas.

“One of the most effective ways we can spur economic growth is to assist some of the country’s smartest minds in turning their good ideas into a commercial success,” Collins said.

According to Collins, this bill combines his experiences as a small-business entrepreneur and an engineer.

There are two phases to the act. The first phase allows universities to apply for up to $150,000 under the Small Business Technology Transfer Program, and once the commercial potential of the project is evaluated, the second phase allows for $1 million per year in grant money.

“We are not spending more taxpayer money; we are doing some reallocation of the STTR to create the third bucket that did not exist before, for pre-phase-one monies,” Collins said. The first and second “buckets” are state and federal money.

He spoke of “filling the gap” between where the project is and where it needs to be and how this bill will have the ability to take the project where it needs to go to become successful.

“Good ideas die because there’s just a small amount of money that needs to take it two more yards down the field,” Collins said.

“Federal government always has played a key role in basic research to move things forward where they’re not quite ready for private sector investment,” Collins added.

Collins called the beginning stages of an idea “the valley of death,” because although this idea might be innovative and effective, it may not be able to “get past those beginning growth stages” or obtain the appropriate funding to be truly successful.

Ultimately, Collins said he strives to “fill in the gap in a responsible ways.”