August 5, 2008 — Congressman Dan Lipinski (D-IL) , Vice Chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee, and Congressman (R-MO) Todd Akin, have introduced H.R. 6661, the Nanotechnology Innovation and Prize Competition Act, which establishes an X-Prize competition for nanotechnology.
H.R. 6661 would stimulate public-private partnership and focus investment towards key goals. The bill identifies five key categories – green nanotechnology, alternative energy, human health, nanoelectronics, and commercialization of consumer products, – and establishes a board comprised of government and private sector experts to select criteria for prize competitions.
The original X-Prize, established in 1996, established a $10 million prize fund for the first team to make civilian space flight a reality. It was successfully claimed eight years later. During that time, the X-Prize’s $10 million award stimulated over $100 million in research and development investment by the competing teams.
As the X-Prize demonstrated, prize competitions are an excellent mechanism to drive investment and innovation, to advance technological capabilities, and to create jobs here at home. By harnessing this entrepreneurial spirit, H.R. 6661 will help accelerate innovation in nanotechnology and advance the U.S.’s position in this vitally important field. As an emerging, cutting-edge technology, nanotechnology holds the potential for revolutionary advances in many industries and products.
The bill also authorizes the government to contract with an outside organization, such as the X-PRIZE Foundation, to administer the competition. This organization, and the board, also will recruit private contributions to fund the prize awards. In this way, H.R. 6661 enables the government to leverage a relatively small amount of resources to stimulate a much greater level of investment in nanotech research.