Prior to Congress adjournment for the traditional August recess, Rep. Mike Honda (CA-15th-D) introduced H.R. 2749, "The Nanotechnology Advancement and New Opportunities (NANO) Act", described by Rep. Honda as ". . .a comprehensive bill to promote the development and responsible stewardship of nanotechnology in the United States . . . .[drawing] upon th work of the Bluee Ribbon Task Force on Nanotechnology . . . " convened by Rep. Honda and then California State Controller Steve Westly in 2004. H.R.2749 includes some of the recommendations offered by the Task Force in their report, "Thinking Big About Thinking Small: An Action Agenda for California", released in 2005.
According to Rep. Honda’s remarks of August 1,2011
. . . the bill addresses concerns that have been raised about whether the Federal Government is doing enough to address potential health and safety risks associated with nanotechnology. The NANO Act requires the development of a nanotechnology research strategy that establishes research priorities for the Federal Government and industry that will ensure the development and responsible stewardship of nanotechnology. This strategy will help to resolve the uncertainty that is one of the major obstacles to the commercialization of nanotechnology–uncertainty about what the risks might be and uncertainty about how the Federal Government might regulate nanotechnology in the future.
The NANO Act also includes a number of provisions to create partnerships, raise awareness, and implement strategic policies to resolve obstacles and promote nanotechnology. It will: create a public-private investment partnership to address the nanotechnology commercialization gap; establish a tax credit for investment in nanotechnology firms; authorize a grant program to support the establishment and development of nanotechnology incubators; establish a Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center for “nano-CAD” tools; establish grant programs for nanotechnology research to address specific challenges in the areas of energy, environment, homeland security, and health; establish a tax credit for nanotechnology education and training program expenses; establish a grant program to support the development of curriculum materials for interdisciplinary nanotechnology courses at higher education institutions; direct NSF to establish a program to encourage manufacturing companies to enter into partnerships with occupational training centers for the development of training to support nanotechnology manufacturing; and call for the development of a strategy for increasing interaction on nanotechnology interests between DOE national labs and the informal science education community.
Title I, "Investment in Nanotechnology Industry", directs the Secretary of Commerce to "establish the Nanomanufacturing Investment Partnership (NIP) . . .with private sector investments", contingent on the private sector raising $100,000,000 within two years of the NANO act being passed and signed into law. Although it’s unstated in the text of the bill, should the private sector fail to raise the $100,000,000 by the end of the two years, the NIP would not be established and Title I rendered moot.
The NIP’s purpose would be to
provide funding for precommercial nanomanufacturing research and development projects, . . . through funding mechanisms described in subsection (c) in a manner so as to advance the commercialization of nanomanufacturing technologies to address critical scientific and engineering needs of national importance, especially with respect to projects that would not be adequately funded or pursued by the private sector or pursuant to the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act or other law, and to increase the commercial application of federally supported research results. . . .at least 85 percent of the funding provided by the Nanomanufacturing Investment Partnership under this section shall be provided to startup companies.
The funding would be in the form of "direct investments . . .contracts, loans, or loan guarantees, unsecured subordinated debt, or any other mechanism designed to advance nanomanufacturing technologies". In turn, the start-up enterprises that received investments from NIP would "return to the Nanotechnology Investment Partnership. . .. fair and reasonable amounts resulting from the commercialization of technologies developed with funding provided by the Nanotechnology Investment Partnership."
An Advisory Board consisting of
(A) representatives of each investor providing more than $10,000,000 to the Nanomanufacturing Investment Partnership, whose votes shall–
(i) be distributed proportional to the size of their investment in the Nanomanufacturing Investment Partnership; and
(ii) collectively amount to 40 percent of the votes on the Advisory Board; and
(B) independent experts on nanomanufacturing and finance appointed by the President from among representatives of government, industry, and academia, whose votes shall collectively amount to 60 percent of the votes on the Advisory Board.
would be established to assist the Secretary of Commerce in making awards.
Section 102 of the NANO Act would create a tax credit to encourage the purchase of "qualified technology developer stock", defined as meaning ". . . any common stock in a C Corporation or any membership unit in a state registered limited liability company . . . "
The act defines a "qualified technology developer as ". . . any entity
`(A) which is a C corporation or limited liability company organized under the laws of any State or of the United States,
`(B) which is a small business concern (as defined in section 3(a) of the Small Business Act), and
`(C) with respect to which a certification under subsection (d) is in effect. . . .
`(1) IN GENERAL- The Secretary, in consultation with the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office, shall certify an entity under this subsection if such entity demonstrates by the submission of such information as required by the Secretary that not less than 51 percent of its activities relate to the development, production, and sale of products using nanotechnology.
`(2) REVOCATION- The Secretary shall revoke the certification of any entity which is certified under paragraph (1) if the Secretary determines that–
`(A) the proceeds from any qualified nanotechnology developer stock issued by such entity are used during the 5-year period following such issue for a purpose other than the development, production, or sale of products using nanotechnology, or
`(B) such entity no longer meets the requirements of paragraph (1).
Section 103 would direct the Secretary of Commerce to award competitive grants for the acquisition/renovation of space to serve as nanomanufacturing "incubators", defined as meaning
an entity affiliated with or housed in a degree-granting institution that provides space and coordinated and specialized services to entrepreneurial businesses that work in the field of nanotechnology commercialization and that meets selected criteria during the businesses’ startup phase, including providing services such as shared office space and services, access to equipment, access to telecommunications and technology services, flexible leases, specialized management assistance, access to financing, and other coordinated business or technical support services.
Other grants would be awarded to develop "curricula related to nanotechnology;
(II) providing services for commercialization, including preparing providing services to appropriate businesses including corporate charters, partnership agreements, and basic contracts, assistance with patents, trademarks, and copyrights, and technology acquisition services; or
(III) providing programming for entrepreneurs working in nanotechnology housed in an incubator;
Other grants would be awarded "for feasibility studies for determining the need for or siting of incubators, and for "research regarding best practices for incubator programs. . . ."
The Secretary of Commerce
shall establish a Nanotechnology Startup Advisory Council composed of industry leaders, business and marketing professionals, venture capitalists, attorneys, and nanotechnology researchers.
(2) PURPOSE- The purpose of the Nanotechnology Startup Advisory Council is to ensure that emerging nanotechnology companies create a sound foundation for new business.
Title II, "Research and Development Directions", contains provisions directing the Secretaries of Energy, Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to establish grant programs for nanotechnology research "to address the need for "clean, cheap, renewable energy","sensors and other materials related to Homeland Security needs", "Health related applications of nanotechnology", and "technologies for the remediation of pollution and other environmental protection technologies".
Title III, "Environmental Nanotechnology Applications", requires the Director of the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office, not later tahn one year following enactment of the NANO Act to
. . . after consultation with appropriate Federal agencies and industry, transmit to the Congress a report containing a nanotechnology research strategy that establishes priorities for the Federal Government and industry that will ensure the development and responsible stewardship of nanotechnology. The report shall include recommendations regarding the funding levels the Director anticipates the agencies charged with implementing this research strategy will require
Title IV, "Education" would create a tax credit
for the taxable year an amount equal to 50 percent of nanotechnology education and training program expenses paid or incurred by the taxpayer for the benefit of–
`(A) in the case of a taxpayer engaged in a trade or business, an employee of the taxpayer, or
`(B) in the case of a taxpayer who is an individual not so engaged, such individual. . . .
`(c) Nanotechnology Education and Training Program Expenses- For purposes of this section–
`(1) IN GENERAL- The term `nanotechnology education and training program expenses’ means expenses paid or incurred by reason of the participation of the taxpayer (or any employee of the taxpayer) in any nanotechnology education and training program. Such expenses shall include expenses paid in connection with–
`(A) course work,
`(B) certification testing,
`(C) programs carried out under the Act of August 16, 1937 (50 Stat. 664, chapter 663; 29 U.S.C. 50 et seq.) which are registered by the Department of Labor, and
`(D) other expenses that are essential to assessing skill acquisition.
`(2) NANOTECHNOLOGY EDUCATION AND TRAINING PROGRAM- The term `nanotechnology education and training program’ means a training program in nanotechnology workplace disciplines or other skill sets which is provided in the United States by an accredited college, university, private career school, postsecondary educational institution, a commercial nanotechnology provider, or an employer-owned nanotechnology training organization. . . .
SEC. 402. ELIGIBLE EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTION.
(a) In General- Section 25A(f)(2) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (relating to eligible educational institution) is amended to read as follows:
`(2) ELIGIBLE EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTION- The term `eligible educational institution’ means–
`(A) an institution–
`(i) which is described in section 101(b) or 102(a) of the Higher Education Act of 1965, and
`(ii) which is eligible to participate in a program under title IV of such Act, or
`(B) a commercial nanotechnology training provider (as defined in section 30E(c)(3)).’.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) would be directed to establish a competitive grant program to assist with the cost of developing "curriculum materials for interdisciplinary nanotechnology courses at institutions of higher learning". NSF would also be required, through the Advanced Technological Education Program, to "establish a program to encourage manufacturing companies to enter into partnerships with occupational training centers for the development of training to support nanotechnology manufacturing."
Title V, "Public Outreach", directs the Secretary of Energy
Not later than 6 months after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Energy shall transmit to the Congress a report containing a strategy for increasing interaction on nanotechnology issues between scientists and engineers at the Department of Energy’s National Laboratories and in the informal science education community, to enable researchers to use their expertise to assist in the development of appropriate nanotechnology exhibitions for school age children and the general public.
H.R. 2745 has been referred to the House Committees on Science, Space and Technology, Energy and Commerce, Homeland Security, and Ways and Means, "for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned."
Any consideration of H.R. 2745 will not occur until the House returns from recess on September 6.